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WORKS ON ART. Edited, and with a Memoir of Mrs. 
Jameson, by Miss E. M. Hukll. With a large num- 
ber <>f Illustrations made especially for this edition. 
Each 8vo, 53.00. The set, 5 vols., $15-00. 
Sacred and Legendary Art. 2 vols. 
Legends of the Monastic Orders. 
Legends of the Madonna. 
Memoirs of the Early Italian Painters. 
Uniform with these in style and construction is Esteli.e 
M. Hurll's "The Life of our Lord in Art,*' 8vo, 
5300. \_J'his volume is to some extent based upon 
Mrs. Jameson's uncompleted -Murk on this subject.'] 
WORKS ON ART. Including Miss Hurll's "The 

Life of our Lord in Art." The set, 6 vols., $18.00. 
i6mo, 5«-25" the set, in box, 5«2.5o. 
Characteristics of Women. 
Studies and Stories. 
Memoirs of Early Italian Painters. 
Legends of the Madonna. 
Dairy of an Ennuyee. 
Memoirs of Loves of the Poets. 
Sketches of Art, Literature, etc. 
Sacred and Legendary Art. 2 vols. 
Legends of the Monastic < hders. 

Boston and Nkw Yokk. 





PESARO MADONNA (Titian). Page 162 








We i** 





Copyright, 1895, 

All rights reserved. 

The method of revising the Legends of the Madonna has 

heen the same as that followed in Sacred and Legendary Art, 
and is so fully explained in the preface to that work that it 
is only necessary to repeat here that the editor's duties have 
heen to investigate the authorship of each work of art men- 
tioned, to ascertain the present locality of the same, and to 
add to the lists of examples under each subject such modern 
works as are worthy to be classed with them. 

It has not always been possible to discover the whereabouts 
of pictures in private collections, as many of these collections 
are inaccessible to the general public, and some are no longer 
intact. The following are known to have been dispersed since 
Mrs. , Jameson's writing: The Wallerstein collection of Ken- 
sington Palace ; Lord Shrewsbury's collection at Alton Towers 
(sold in 1857) ; Lord Orford's (sold in 1856) ; Lord North- 
wick's (sold in 1859); Mr. Bromley's (sold in 1863); the 
Fuller-Maitland collection (sold in 1879) ; the Eastlake collec- 
tion (sold in 1894) ; the Blenheim collection, and that belong- 
ing to .Mr. Samuel Rogers. 

The text of this volume, like that in the other volumes of 
the series, will be found materially unchanged, and the editorial 
comments can be readily distinguished therefrom by the brack- 
ets in which they are inclosed. The scheme of illustrations 
has been very carefully prepared, with a view to selecting 
from the multitude of examples described by Mrs. Jameson 
those which constitute a representative treatment of Madonna 

Bbtklli M. 1 1 1' km-. 

Hkw Hkdfokd. Mass., April, 1895. 


In presenting to my friends and to the public this Third 
Series of the Sacred and Legendary Art, few preparatory words 
will be required. 

If in the former volumes I felt diffident of my own pow- 
ers to do any justice to my subjectj I have* yet been encour- 
aged by the sympathy and approbation of those who have 
kindly accepted of what has been done, and yet more kindly 
excused deficiencies, errors, and oversights, which the wide 
range of subjects rendered almost unavoidable. 

With far more of doubt and diffidence, yet not less trust 
in the benevolence and candor of my critics, do I present 
this volume to the public. I hope it will be distinctly un- 
derstood that the general plan of the work is merely artistic ; 
that it really aims at nothing more than to render the various 
subjects intelligible. For this reason it has been thought ad- 
visable to set aside, in a great measure, individual preferences, 
and all predilections for particular Schools and particular Peri- 
ods of Art — to take, in short, the widest possible range as 
regards examples — and then to leave the reader, when thus 
guided to the meaning of what he sees, to select, compare, ad- 
mire, according to his own discrimination, taste, and require- 
ments. The great difficulty has been to keep within reason- 
able limits. Though the subject has a unity not found in the 
other volumes, it is really boundless as regards variety and 
complexity. I may have been superficial from mere super- 
abundance of materials ; sometimes mistaken as to facts and 
dates; the taste, the feelings, and the faitli of my readers 
may not always go along with me ; but if attention and inter- 
est have been excited — if the sphere of enjoyment in works 


of Art have been enlarged and enlightened, I have done all I 
ever wished — all I ever hoped, to do. 

With regard to a point of infinitely greater importance, I 

may be allowed to plead — that it has been impossible, to treat 

of tho representation! of the Bleesed Virgin without touching 

on doctrines such as constitute the principal differences be- 
tween the creeds of Christendom. I have had to ascend most 
perilous heights, to dive into terribly obscure depths. Not 
f->r worlds would I be guilty of a scotling allusion to any be- 
lief or any object held sacred by sincere and earnest hearts ; 
but neither has it been possible for mo to write in a tone 
of acquiescence, where I altogether differ in feeling and 
opinion. On this point I shall need, and feel sure that I shall 
obtain, the generous construction of readers of all persuasions. 



Authorities referred to by the Author and by the 
Editor xix 


I. Origin and History of the Effigies of the Ma- 
donna. Origin of the Worship of the Madonna. — 
Earliest artistic Representations. — Origin of the 
Group of the Virgin and Child in the Fifth Century. 

— The First Council at Ephesus. — The Iconoclasts. 

— First Appearance of the Effigy of the Virgin on 
Coins. — Period of Charlemagne. — Period of the Cru- 
sades. — Revival of Art in the Thirteenth Century. — 
The Fourteenth Century. — Influence of Dante. — 
The Fifteenth Century. — The Council of Constance 
and the Hussite Wars. — The Sixteenth Century. — 
The Luxury of Church Pictures. — The Influence of 
Classical Literature on the Representations of the Vir- 
gin. — The Seventeenth Century. — Theological Art. 

— Spanish Art. — Influence of Jesuitism on Art. — Au- 
thorities followed by Painters in the earliest Times. 

— Legend of St. Luke. — Character of the Virgin 
Mary as drawn in the Gospels. — Early Descriptions 
of her Person ; how far attended to by the Painters. 

— Poetical Extracts descriptive of the Virgin Mary . 1 
II. Symbols and Attributes of the Virgin. Proper 

Costume and Colors ' 33 

III. Devotional and Historical Representations. Al- 

tar-pieces. — The Life of the Virgin Mary as treated in 
a Series. — The Seven Joys and Seven Sorrows as a 
Series 42 

IV. Titles of the Virgin Mary. Expressed in Pictures 

and Effigies. — Churches dedicated to her. — Conclu- 
sion 56 




The Virgin Mary. Earliest Figures. — The Mosaics. — The 
Virgin of San Venanzio. — The Enthroned Virgin 
without the Child, as type of Heavenly Wisdom. — 
Various Examples 64 

L' Incoronata. The Type of the Church Triumphant. — The 
Virgin crowned by her Son. — Examples from the old 
Mosaics. — Examples of the Coronation of the Virgin 
from various Painters 72 

The Virgin oe Mercy. As represented in the Last Judg- 
ment. — As Dispenser of Mercy on Earth. — Various 
Examples 85 

The Mater Dolorosa. Seated or standing, with the Seven 
Swords. — The Stabat Mater, the ideal Pieta. — The 
Votive Pieta, by Guido 92 

Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. Origin of the 
Subject. — History of the Theological Dispute. — The 
First Papal Decree touching the Immaculate Concep- 
tion. — The Bull of Paul V. — The Popularity of the 
Subject in Spain. — Pictures by Guido, by Roelas, Ve- 
lasquez, Murillo. — The Predestination of the Virgin. 
— Curious picture by Cotignola 99 


Virgo Deipara. The Virgin in her maternal Character. — Ori- 
gin of the Group of the Mother and Child. — Nesto- 
rian Controversy. — The Enthroned Virgin in the old 
Mosaics. — In early Italian Art. — The Virgin stand- 
ing as Regina Cceli 112 

La Madre Pia enthroned. — Mater Sapientice with the Book . 124 

The Virgin and Child enthroned with attendant Figures : 
with Angels ; ■ with Prophets ; with Apostles ; with 
Saints — John "the Baptist, St. Anna, St. Joachim, St. 
Joseph ; with Martyrs and Patron Saints . . . . 130 

Various Examples of Arrangement. With the Fathers of the 
Church ; with St. Jerome and St. Catherine ; with the 
Marriage of St. Catherine. — The Virgin and Child 
between St. Catherine and St. Barbara ; with Mary 
Magdalene ; with St. Lucia. — The Virgin and Child 


between St. George ami St. Nicholas; with St. Christo- 
pher; with St. Leonard. — The Virgin of Charity . . 1:}8 

The Madonnas of Florence; of Siena; of Venice and Lotn- 
• hardy. — The Virgin attended by the Monastic Saints. 
— Examples from various Painters 147 

Votive Madonnas. For Mercies accorded: for Victory ; for 

Deliverance from Pestilence ; against Flood and Fire 151 

Family Votive Madonnas. Examples : the Madonna of the 
Bentivoglio Family ; the Madonna of the Sforza Fam- 
ily; the Madonna of the Meyer Family. — The Ma- 
donna di Foligno. — German Votive Madonna at 
Rouen. — Madonna of Rene, Duke of Anjou. — La 
Vierge au Donateur. — Madonna of the Pesaro Family 
at Venice . 15G 

Half-length Enthroned Madonnas ; first introduced by the 

Venetians; various Examples lG-'J 

The Mater Amabilh. The infinite Variety given to this Sub- 
ject. — Early Greek Examples. — Virgin and Child 
with St. John. — He takes the Cross 166 

The Madre Pia; the Virgin adores her Son 170 

Pastoral Madonnas of the Venetian School 178 



The Legend of Joachim and Anna. Joachim rejected 
from the Temple. — Joachim herding his Sheep on 
the Mountain. — The Altercation between Anna and 
her Maid Judith. — The Meeting before the Golden 

Gate 181 

The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin. The Importance 

and Beauty of the Subject. — How treated .... 193 
The Presentation of the Virgin. A Subject of great Im- 
portance. — General Arrangement and Treatment. — 
Various Examples from celebrated Painters . . . .190 

The Virgin in the Temple 200 

The Girlhood of the Virgin 200 

The Marriage of the Virgin. The Legend as followed by 
the Painters. — Various Examples of the Marriage of 
the Virgin, as treated by Perugino, Raphael, and 
others " 202 



The Annunciation. Its Beauty as a Subject. — Treated as 

a Mystery and as an Event 209 

The Annunciation as a Mystery. Not earlier than the 
Eleventh Century. — Its proper Place in Architectural 
Decoration : On Altar-pieces. — As an Allegory. — 
The Annunciation as expressing the Incarnation. — 
Ideally treated with Saints and Votaries. — Examples 
by Simone Memmi, Fra Bartolommeo, Angelico, and 
others 211 

The Annunciation as an Event. The appropriate Cir- 
cumstances. — The Time, the Locality, the Accesso- 
ries. — The Descent of the Angel ; proper Costume ; 
with the Lily, the Palm, the Olive. — Proper Attitude 
and Occupation of Mary ; Expression and Deportment. 
— The Dove. — Examples from various Painters. — 
Mistakes 219 

The Visitation. Character of Elizabeth. — The Locality 
and Circumstances. — Proper Accessories. — Examples 
from various Painters 228 

The Dream of Joseph. He entreats Forgiveness of Mary . 235 

The Nativity. The Prophecy of the Sibyl. — La Madonna 

del Parto '. 237 

The Nativity as a Mystery. AVith poetical Accessories ; 

with Saints and Votaries 241 

The Nativity as an Event. The Time; the Place; the 
proper Accessories and Circumstances; the angelic 
Choristers ; Signification of the Ox and the Ass . . 244 

The Adoration of the Shepherds 248 

The Adoration of the Magi. They are supposed to have 
been Kings. — Prophecy of Balaam. — The Appear- 
ance of the Star. — The Legend of the Three Kings 
of Cologne. — Proper Accessories. — Examples from 
various Painters. — The Land Surveyors, by Gior- 
gione 250 

The Purification of the Virgin, the Presentation, 
and the Circumcision of Christ. The Prophecy 
of Simeon. — Greek Legend of the Nunc Dimittis. — 
Various Examples 262 

The Flight into Egypt. The Massacre of the Innocents. 


— The Preparation for the Journey. — The Circum- 
stances. — The Legend of the Robbers; of the Palm . 208 
The Repose of the Holy Family. The Subject often mis- 
taken. — Proper Treatment of the Group. — The Re- 
pose at Matarea. — The Ministry of Angels .... 275 

The Legend of the Gypsy 279 

The Return from Egypt 283 


The Holy Family. Proper Treatment of the Domestic 

Group as distinguished from the Devotional .... 284 

Two Figures. The simplest Form of the Family Group 
that of the Mother and Child. — The Child fed. from 
his Mother's Bosom. — The Infant sleeps 280 

Three Figures. With the little St. John ; with St. Joseph; 

with St. Anna 290 

Four Figures. With St. Elizabeth and others 295 

Five or Six Figures 290 

The Family of the Virgin grouped together .... 290 
Examples of Holy Family as treated by various 

Artists 298 

The Carpenter's Shop 301 

The Infant Christ learning to read 303 

The Dispute in the Temple. The Virgin seeks her Son . 304 

The Death of Joseph 307 

The Marriage at Cana in Galilee. Proper Treatment 
of the Virgin in this subject ; as treated by Luini 
and by Paul Veronese 309 

The Ministry of Christ. Mystical Treatment by Fra An- 

gelico 312 

Lo Spasimo. Christ takes leave of his Mother. — Women 
who are introduced into Scenes of the Passion of our 
Lord. — The Procession to Calvary. — Lo Spasimo di 
Sicilia 313 

The Crucifixion. Proper Treatment of the Virgin in this 
Subject. — The impropriety of placing her upon the 
Ground. — Her Fortitude. — Christ recommends his 
Mother to St. John ' 317 

The Descent from the Cross. Proper Place and Action 

of the Virgin in this Subject 319 


The Deposition. Proper Treatment of this Form of the 
Mater Dolorosa. — Persons introduced. — Various Ex- 
amples 322 

The Entombment. Treated as an Historical Scene. — As 
one of the Sorrows of the Rosary. — Attended by 
Saints 324 

The Mater Dolorosa attended by St. Peter. — Attended by St. 

John and Mary Magdalene 326 


The Apparition of Christ to his Mother. Beauty and 
Sentiment of the old Legend ; how represented by 
the Artists 328 

The Ascension. The proper Place of the Virgin Mary . . 332 

The Descent of the Holy Ghost. Mary one of the prin- 
cipal Persons 332 

The Apostles take Leave of the Virgin 334 

The Death and Assumption of the Virgin. The old Greek 

Legend 335 

The Angel announcing to Mary her approaching 

Death 340 

The Death of the Virgin. An ancient and important Sub- 
ject. — As treated in the Greek School ; in early Ger- 
man Art ; in Italian Art. — Various Examples . . . 341 

The Apostles carry the Body of the Virgin to the 

Tomb 346 

The Entombment 347 

The Assumption. Distinction between the Assumption of 
the Body and the Assumption of the Soul of the Vir- 
gin. — The Assumption as a Mystery ; as an Event. 
— The Legend of the Girdle ; as painted in the Ca- 
thedral at Prato. — Examples of the Assumption as 
represented by various Artists 347 

The Coronation as distinguished from the Incoronata. How 

treated as an Historical Subject 358 



Pesaro Madonna (Titian). Church of the Frari, Venice 

(See page 102) Frontispiece 

Bas-relief (early Christian sarcophagus) 8 

Bas-relief (early Christian sarcophagus) 9 

The Virgin (mosaic). Oratory of S. Venanzio, St. John 

Lateran, Rome C5 

Madonna (attributed to Simone Memmi). Campo Santo, 

Pisa 67 

Virgo Sapientissima (Van Eyck). Berlin Gallery .... 69 
Virgin from Disputa (Raphael). Camera della Segnatura, 

Vatican * 70 

Coronation (mosaic, 1290). S. Maria Maggiore, Rome . . 75 

Coronation (Pinturicchio). Vatican Gallery 77 

Coronation of the Virgin (Botticelli). Florence Academy 

facing 80 

Coronation (Hans Holbein the Elder) 83 

The Virgin and Christ from the Last Judgment (attributed 

to Orcagna). Campo Santo, Pisa 86 

La Madonna di Misericordia (bas-relief, thirteenth century). 

Abbazia della Misericordia, Venice 88 

La Madonna di Misericordia (Piero della Francesca) ... 89 
La Misericordia di Lucca (Bartolommeo). Lucca Gallery 

facing 90 
Stabat Mater (Angelico). From Crucifixion, San Marco, 

Florence 93 

Mater Dolorosa (P. de Champaigne) 95 

Pieta (Michael Angelo). St. Peter's, Rome 90 

Pieta (Martin Schoen) 97 

Immaculate Conception (Murillo). Louvre, Paris . facing 106 

Immaculate Conception (Gnido). Faenza 107 

Virgo Deipara (painting in Catacombs). Rome 114 

Madonna and Child (Guido da Siena). S. Domenico, Siena . 119 

Madonna and Child (Cimabue). S. Maria Novella, Florence 120 

Madonna di San Brizio. Cathedral, Orvieto ...... 121 


Madonna and Child (Martin Schoen) 122 

Madonna and Child (attributed to Van Eyck) 123 

Madonna and Child (Bellini). Venice Academy .... 124 

Mater Sapiential 125 

Madonna of the Harpies (Andrea del Sarto). Pitti, Flor- 
ence 128 

Enthroned Madonna (Carlo Crivelli). National Gallery, 

London 129 

Madonna di Foligno (Raphael). Vatican Gallery, Rome 

facing 130 
Enthroned Madonna with Archangels (mosaic). S. Apolli- 

nare Nuovo, Ravenna 131 

St. Anna, Madonna, and Child (Francesco da San Gallo). Or 

San Michele, Florence 136 

Madonna of the Fish (Raphael). Madrid Gallery .... 139 

Madonna of Victory (Mantegna). Louvre, Paris . facing 152 

Madonna del Voto. Siena 153 

Meyer Madonna (Holbein). Dresden Gallery. . . facing 158 

Madonna of the Ink-horn (Botticelli). Uffizi, Florence facing 164 

Greco-Italian Madonna. Perugia 167 

Greco-Italian Madonna. S. Maria in Cosmedino, Rome . . 168 

Madonna (Squarcione). Berlin Gallery 169 

Madonna (Bartolommeo). S. Marco, Florence 170 

Madonna (Albert Diirer) 171 

Madonna della Seggiola (Raphael). Pitti, Florence . . . 172 

Madonna (Lucas van Leyden) 173 

Madonna (Bellini). National Gallery, London 174 

Madonna of the Meadow (Raphael). Belvedere, Vienna . . 175 

Madonna (Correggio). Umzi, Florence 177 

Madonna (Filippo Lippi). Umzi, Florence 178 

Sacra Conversazione (Palma). Uffizi, Florence 180 

Joachim rejected from the Temple (Taddeo Gaddi). S. 

Croce, Florence 188 

Meeting of Joachim and Anna (Albert Diirer) 191 

Birth of the Virgin (Greco-Italian) 193 

Birth of the Virgin (Ghirlandajo). S. Maria Novella, Flor- 
ence facing 194 

Presentation of the Virgin (Carpaccio). Brera, Milan . . 199 

Marriage of the Virgin (Angelico). Uffizi, Florence . . . 203 

Marriage of the Virgin (Raphael). Brera, Milan . facing 206 
Annunciation (Della Robbia). Hospital of the Innocents, 

Florence 209 


Annunciation (attributed to Stephen Lothener). Cathedral, 

Cologne 211 

Annunciation (Lorenzo Monaco). Florence Academy . . 218 

Annunciation (Bartolommeo). Louvre, Paris . . facing 216 

Annunciation (Angelico). S. Marco, Florence 218 

Annunciation (Van Eyck) 221 

Annunciation (Albert Diirer) 22;] 

Visitation (Ghirlandajo). Louvre, Paris 231 

Visitation (Lucas van Ley den) . . 232 

Visitation (Albertinelli). TJrrizi, Florence 234 

Sibyl's Prophecy (Peruzzi). Fonte Giusta, Siena .... 239 

Nativity (Lorenzo di Credi). Pitti, Florence 242 

Adoration of the Shepherds (Mengs). Madrid Gallery . . 249 

Adoration of the Kings (Ghirlandajo). Pitti, Florence/acm*/ 25G 

Adoration of the Kings (Memling) 257 

Adoration of the Kings (Martin Schoen) 259 

Presentation in the Temple (Byzantine) 205 

Presentation in the Temple (Bartolommeo). Belvedere, 

Vienna 266 

Presentation in the Temple (Van der Weyden). Munich 

Gallery 267 

Flight into Egypt (Rembrandt) 273 

Repose in Egypt (Lucas van Leyden) 277 

Repose in Egypt (Vandyck). Pitti, Florence . . . facing 278 

Return from Egypt (Vanni). S. Querico, Siena 282 

Madonna of the Green Cushion (Solario). Louvre, Paris . 287 

Garvagh Madonna (Raphael). National Gallery, London . 291 

Loretto Madonna (Raphael) 293 

Christ among the Doctors (attributed to Giotto). Florence 

Academy 305 

Lo Spasimo di Sicilia (Raphael) facing 316 

Group from Descent from Cross (Volterra). Trinita de' 

Monti, Rome 320 

Deposition (Raphael). Drawing in Louvre 321 

Group from Deposition (Perugino). Pitti, Florence . . . 323 

Christ appearing to his Mother (Albert Diirer) 331 

Descent of the Holy Ghost. From MS. of Laurentian Li- 
brary 333 

Angel announcing to the Virgin her approaching Death (Or- 

cagna). Or San Michele, Florence 339 

Angel announcing to the Virgin her approaching Death 

(Filippo Lippi). Florence Academy 340 


Death of the Virgin (Albert Diirer) 343 

Death and Assumption of the Virgin (Orcagna). Or San 

Michele, Florence facing 348 

Assumption of the Virgin (Titian). Venice Academy . . 355 
Assumption of the Virgin (Granacci). Ruccellai Palace, Flor- 
ence 357 

Coronation of the Virgin (attributed to Raphael). Vatican 
Gallery, Rome facing 358 


Memorie dell' Imagine di M. V. dell' Impruneta. Florence, 1714. 
Antonio Bosio. Roma Subterranea. Rome, 1051. 
Giovanni Giustino Ciampini. Opera ed auct. Romae, 1747. 
Antonio Francesco Gori. Thesaurus Gemmarum antiquarum 

astriferarum. Florence, 1750. 1 
Friedrich Christian Carl Heinrich Miinter. Sinnbilder und Kunst- 

vorstellungen der alten Christen. Altona, 1825. 
Adolphe Napoleon Didron. Manuel d'Iconographie Chretienne. 

Paris, 1845. 
L'Abbe Crosnier, Iconographie Chretienne. Paris, 1848. 2 
Conte Carlo Cesare Malvasia. Felsina Pittrice. Bologna, 1841. 
Marco Lastri. L' Etruria Pittrice. Florence, 1791-95. 
Carlo Ridolfi. Maraviglia dell' Arte ; ovvero le vite degli illustri 

pittori veneti e dello stato. Padua, 1835-37. 
Count Leopoldo Cicognara. Scultura Moderna. Prato, 1823. 
Seroux d'Agincourt. Histoire de PArt par les Monumens. Paris, 

Luigi Lanzi. Storia Pittorica della Italia. Milan, 1824. 
Giovanni Rosini. Storia della Pittura Italiana. Pisa, 1839. 
Giovanni Gaye. Carteggio inedito d' Artisti dei Secoli 14-16. 

Florence, 1839-40. 
Carlo Lasinio. Ancient Florentine Masters. 

Giorgio Vasari. Vite dei Pittori, Scultori e Architetti. Flor- 
ence, 1846-57. 
Giorgio Vasari. English Translation. London. 1851. 
William Young Ottley. History of Engraving. London, 1816. 
A. F. Rio. L'Art Chretien. Paris, 1861. 
Lord Lindsay. Sketches of Christian Art. London, 1847. 
Sir Chas. Eastlake's Revision of Kugler's Handbook of the Italian 

Schools. London, 1842. 

1 It is thought probable that this edition was used by Mrs. Jameson, as a 
copy of it is in the British Museum. Other editions were published in Florence 
in 1740 and in Rome in 1797. 

2 Reprinted in Tours in 1876. 


Sir William Stirling-Maxwell. Annals of the Artists of Spain. 
London, 1848. 

Louisa Twining. Symbols of Early Christian Art. London, 

J. 1). Passavant. Rafael von Urbino. Leipzig, 1839. 

Adam von Bartsch. Le Peintre Gravenr. Vienna, 1813. 

Pietro Zani. Enciclopedia metodica critico-ragionata delle Belle 

Arti. Parma, 1817-23. 
Anna Jameson. Handbook to Private Galleries of Art. London, 

Augustine. Opera. 
Adr. Baillet. Fetes Mobiles. Paris, 1704 (4 vols, folio) ; Paris, 

1701, 1704 (17 vols. 8vo) ; Paris, 1739 (16 vols. 4to). 1 
James Dennistoun. Memoirs of the Dukes of Urbino. London, 

Count Pompeo Litta. Famiglie Celebri d' Italia. Milan, 1819. 
Jeremy Taylor. Life of Christ. London, 1854. 
J. A. W. Neander. History of the Christian Church. Translated 

by J. E. Ryland. London, 1851. 
L'Abbe Joseph Mery. Theologie des Peintres. Paris, 1765. 
Henry Hallam. History of the Literature of Europe. London, 



J. Spencer Northcote and W. E. Brownlow. Roma Sotterranea. 

London, 1869. 
Andre Perate. Archaeologie Chretienne. Paris, 1892. 
P. Raffaelo Garrucci. Storia della Arte Cristiana. Prato, 1879. 
A. N. Didron. Christian Iconography ; vol. i., translated by E. J. 

Millington. London, 1851. Vol. ii., translated by Margaret 

Stokes. London, 1886. 
Louisa Twining. The Symbols of Early Christian and Medi- 
aeval Art. London, 1885. 
Lord Lindsay. Sketches of Christian Art. London, 1885. 
Woltmann and Woermann. History of Painting. Translated 

by Clara Bell. London, 1887. 
Eugene Miintz. Histoire de l'Art pendant la Renaissance. Paris, 

Robert Dohme and others. Kunst und Kunstler des Mittel alters 

and der Neuzeit. Leipzig. 1877-1886. 

1 It is impossible to learn which one of these editions was Accessible to Mrs- 


Sir Henry Layard's Revision of Kugler's Handbook of the Italian 
Schools. London, 1887. 

Giovanni Morelli. Critical Studies of Italian Painters. Trans- 
lated by Constance Jocelyn Ffoulkes. London, 1802. 

Gustavo Frizzoni. Arte Italians del Rinatcimento. Milan, 1801. 

Crowe and Cavalcaselle. History of Painting in Italy. London, 

Crowe and Cavalcaselle. History of Painting in North Italy. 
London, 1871. 

Bernhard Berenson. The Venetian Painters of the Renaissance. 
New York and London, 1894. 

Crowe's Revision of Kugler's Handbook of the German, Flem- 
ish and Dutch Schools. London, 1889. 

Ernst Forster : Denkmale der Deutschen Kunst. Leipzig, 1855- 

II. Janitschek. Geschichte der Deutschen Kunst. Berlin, 1890. 

Sir William Stirling-Maxwell. Annals of the Artists of Spain. 
London, 1891. 

Clara Cornelia Stranahan. History of French Painting. New 
York, 1888. 

Crowe and Cavalcaselle. Raphael : His Life and Works. Lon- 
don, 1882-1885. 

Eugene Miintz. Raphael. Translated by Walter Armstrong. 
London, 1882. 

J. D. Passavant. Raphael. Translated in an abridged English 
edition. London and New York; 1872. 

Gruyer. Les Vierges de Raphael. Paris, 1869. 

Gutbier. Raffael's Madonnen. Gutbier, Dresden, 1881. 

Crowe and Cavalcaselle. Titian : His Life and Times. London, 

Georges La Fenestre. La Vie et L'CEuvre de Titien. Paris. 

Frank Preston Stearns : Life and Genius of Jacopo Robusti. 
New York, 1894. 

J. A. Symonds. Life of Michel Angelo Buonarroti. London, 

Charles B. Curtis. Velasquez and Murillo. Description and his- 
torical catalogue of their works. London and New York, 1883. 

The Works of Antonio Canova, engraved by Henry Moses. De- 
scription by the Countess Albrizzi ; biographical memoir by 
Count Cicognara. London, 1849. 

Moritz Thausing. Diirer : His Life and Works. Translated 
from the German by F. A. Eaton. London, 1882. 


Emile Michel. Rembrandt: his Life, his Work and his Time. 
Translated from the French by Florence Simmonds. London, 

Dimitri Rovinksi. Rembrandt et son ceuvre grave, avec un cata- 
logue raisonne. St. Petersburg, 1890. 

Amand-Durand. CEuvre de Schongauer. Paris, 1881. 

Amand-Durand. (Euvre de Lucas de Leyde. Paris. 

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I. Origin and History of the Effigies of the 

Through all the most beautiful and precious productions 
of human genius and human skill which the middle ages and 
the renaissance have bequeathed to us, we trace, more or less 
developed, more or less apparent, present in shape before us, 
or suggested through inevitable associations, one prevailing 
idea ; it is that of an impersonation in the feminine character 
of beneficence, purity, and power, standing between an offended 
Deity and poor, sinning, suffering humanity, and clothed in 
the visible form of Mary, the Mother of our Lord. 

To the Roman Catholics this idea remains an indisputable 
religious truth of the highest import. Those of a different 
creed may think fit to dispose of the whole subject of the Ma- 
donna either as a form of superstition or a form of Art. But 
merely as a form of Art, we cannot in these days confine our- 
selves to empty conventional criticism. We are obliged to 
look further and deeper ; and in this department of Legendary 
Art, as in the others, we must take the higher ground, perilous 
though it be. We must seek to comprehend the dominant 
idea lying behind and beyond the mere representation. For, 
after all, some consideration is due to facts which we must 
necessarily accept, whether we deal with antiquarian theology 
or artistic criticism ; namely, that the worship of the Madonna 
did prevail through all the Christian and civilized world for 
nearly a thousand years ; that, in spite of errors, exaggera- 
tions, abuses, this worship did comprehend certain great ele- 
mental truths interwoven with our human nature, and to be 
evolved perhaps with our future destinies. Therefore did it 


work itself into the life and soul of man ; therefore has it been 
worked out in the manifestations of his genius ; and therefore 
the multiform imagery in which it has been clothed from the 
rudest imitations of life to the most exquisite creations of mind, 
may be resolved, as a whole, into one subject, and becomes 
one great monument in the history of progressive thought and 
faith, as well as in the history of progressive Art. 

Of the pictures in our galleries, public or private, — of the 
architectural adornments of those majestic edifices which sprang 
up in the middle ages (where they have not been despoiled 
or desecrated by a zeal as fervent as that which reared them), 
the largest and most beautiful portion have reference to the 
Madonna, — her character, her person, her history. It was a 
theme which never tired her votaries, — whether, as in the 
hands of great and sincere artists, it became one of the noblest 
and loveliest, or, as in the hands of superficial, unbelieving, 
time-serving artists, one of the most degraded. All that hu- 
man genius, inspired by faith, could achieve of best — all that 
fanaticism, sensualism, atheism, could perpetrate of worse — do 
we find in the cycle of those representations which have been 
dedicated to the glory of the Virgin. And indeed the ethics 
of the Madonna worship, as evolved in Art, might be not 
unaptly likened to the ethics of human love ; so long as the 
object of sense remained in subjection to the moral idea — so 
long as the appeal was to the best of our faculties and affec- 
tions — so long was the image grand or refined, and the influ- 
ences to be ranked with those which have helped to humanize 
and civilize our race ; but so soon as the object became a mere 
idol, then worship and worshippers, Art and artists, were to- 
gether degraded. 

It is not my intention to enter here on that disputed point, 
the origin of the worship of the Madonna. Our present theme 
lies within prescribed limits, — wide enough, however, to 
embrace an immense field of thought ; it seeks to trace the pro- 
gressive influence of that worship on the Fine Arts for a 
thousand years or more, and to interpret the forms in which 
it has been clothed. That the veneration paid to Mary in the 
early Church was a very natural feeling in those who advocated 
the divinity of her Son, would be granted, I suppose, by all 
but the most bigoted reformers ; that it led to unwise and wild 
extremes, confounding the creature with the Creator, would be 


admitted, I suppose, by all but the most bigoted Roman Cntho- 
lics. How it extended from the East over the nations of the 
Westj how it grew and spread, may be read in ecclesiastical 
histories. Everywhere it seems to have found in the human 
heart some deep sympathy — deeper far than mere theological 
doctrine could reach — ready to accept it ; and in every land 
the ground prepared for it in some already dominant idea of a 
mother-Goddess, chaste, beautiful, and benign. As, in the 
oldest Hebrew rites and pagan superstitions, men traced tin; 
promise of a coming Messiah, — as the deliverers and kings of 
the Old Testament, and even the demigods of heathendom, 
became accepted types of the person of Christ, — so the Eve 
of the Mosaic history, the Astarte of the Assyrians — 

The mooned Ashtarotli, queen and mother both — 
the Isis nursing Horus of the Egyptians, the Demeter and the 
Aphrodite of the Greeks, the Scythian Freya, have been con- 
sidered by some writers as types of a divine maternity, fore- 
shadowing the Virgin-mother of Christ. 1 Others will have 
it that these scattered, dim, mistaken — often gross and per- 
verted — ideas which were afterwards gathered into the pure, 
dignified, tender image of the Madonna, were but as the voice 
of a mighty prophecy, sounded through all the generations of 
men, even from the beginning of time, of the coming moral 
regeneration, and complete and harmonious development of the 
whole human race, by the establishment, on a higher basis, of 
what has been called the " feminine element " in society. And 
let me at least speak for myself. In the perpetual iteration of 
that beautiful image of the woman highly blessed — tltere, 
where others saw only pictures or statues, I have seen this 
great hope standing like a spirit beside the visible form ; in 
the fervent worship once universally given to that gracious 
presence, I have beheld an acknowledgment of a higher as well 
as gentler power than that of the strong hand and the might 
that makes the right, — and in every earnest votary, one who, 
as he knelt, was in this sense pious beyond the reach of his 
own thought, and "devout beyond the meaning of his will." 

It is curious to observe, as the worship of the Virgin-mother 
expanded and gathered to Hself the relics of many an ancient 

1 [Other prototypes of the " Great Mother " are the Lady Isani of the Hindii; 
the Cvholo of Phrjgia and the Disa of the North. Vide Henry M. Alden's 
God in Uis World, First Book, xxxiv.] 


faith, how the new and the old elements, some of them appar- 
ently the most heterogeneous, became amalgamated, and were 
combined into the early forms of Art ; how the Madonna, when 
she assumed the characteristics of the great Diana of Ephesus, 
at once the type of Fertility and the Goddess of Chastity, 
became, as the impersonation of motherhood, all beauty, bounty, 
and graciousness ; and at the same time, by virtue of her per- 
petual virginity, the patroness of single and ascetic life — the 
example and the excuse for many of the wildest of the early 
monkish theories. With Christianity, new ideas of the moral 
and religious responsibility of woman entered the world ; and 
while these ideas were yet struggling with the Hebrew and 
classical prejudices concerning the whole sex, they seem to 
have produced some curious perplexity in the minds of the 
greatest doctors of the faith. Christ, as they assure us, was 
born of a woman only, and had no earthly father, that neither 
sex might despair ; " for had he been born a man (which was 
necessary), yet not born of woman, the women might have 
despaired of themselves, recollecting the first offence, the first 
man having been deceived by a woman. Therefore we are to 
suppose that, for the exaltation of the male sex, Christ appeared 
on earth as a man ; and, for the consolation of womankind, he 
was born of a woman only ; as if it had been said, ' from hence- 
forth no creature shall be base before God, unless perverted 
by depravity.' " (Augustine, Opera Supt. 238, Serm. 63.) 
Such is the reasoning of St. Augustine, who, I must observe, 
had an especial veneration for his mother Monica ; and it is, 
perhaps, for her sake that he seems here desirous to prove that 
through the Virgin Mary all womankind were henceforth ele- 
vated in the scale of being. And this was the idea enter- 
tained. of her subsequently ; " ennobler of thy nature ! " says 
Dante, apostrophizing her, as if her perfections had ennobled 
not merely her own sex, but the whole human race. 1 

But also with Christianity came the want of a new type of 
womanly perfection, combining all the attributes of the ancient 
female divinities with others altogether new. Christ, as the 
model man, united the virtues of the two sexes, till the idea that 
there are essentially masculine and feminine virtues intruded 
itself on the higher Christian conception, and seems to have 
necessitated the female type. 
1 " Tu se' colei che 1' umananatura Nobilitasti." [Paradiso, canto xxxiii. 15.] 


The first historical mention of a direct worship paid to the 
Virgin Mary occurs in a passage in the works of St. Epiphanius, 
who died in 403. In enumerating the heresies (eighty-four in 
number) which had sprung up in the early Church, he mentions 
a sect of women who had emigrated from Thrace into Arabia, 
with whom it was customary to offer cakes of meal and honey 
to the Virgin Mary, as if she had been a divinity, transferring 
to her, in fact, the worship paid to Ceres. The very first 
instance which occurs in written history of an invocation to 
Mary is in the life of St. Justina, as related by Gregory Nazi- 
anzen. Justina calls on the Virgin-mother to protect her against 
the seducer and sorcerer, Cyprian ; and does not call in vain. 
(See Sacred and Legendary Art.) These passages, however, do 
not prove that previously to the fourth century there had been 
no worship or invocation of the Virgin, but rather the contrary. 
However this may be, it is to the same period — the fourth cen- 
tury — we refer the most ancient representations of the Virgin 
in Art. The earliest figures extant are those on the Christian 
sarcophagi ; but neither in the early sculpture nor in the 
mosaics of S. Maria Maggiore do we find any figure of the Vir- 
gin standing alone ; she forms part of a group of the Nativity 
or the Adoration of the Magi. There is no attempt at indi- 
viduality or portraiture. St. Augustine says expressly, that 
there existed in his time no authentic portrait of the Virgin ; 
but it is inferred from his account that, authentic or not, such 
pictures did then exist, since there were already disputes con- 
cerning their authenticity. There were at this period received 
symbols of the person and character of Christ, as the lamb, the 
vine, the fish, etc., but not, as far as I can learn, any such 
accepted symbols of the Virgin Mary. Further, it is the opin- 
ion of the learned in ecclesiastical antiquities that, previous to 
the first Council of Ephesus, it was the custom to represent the 
figure of the Virgin alone without the Child ; but that none of 
these original effigies remain to us, only supposed copies of a 
later date. 1 

It has long been a disputed, or at least an unsettled and 
doubtful, point, as to whether certain figures existing on the 
earliest Christian monuments were or were not intended to 
represent the Virgin Mary. The Protestants, on the one hand, 
as if still inspired by that superstition against superstition 
I Vide Memorie dell' Immagine di M. V. del? Impruneta. Florence, 1714. 


which led to the violent and vulgar destruction of so many 
beautiful works of Art, and the Catholics on the other, jealous 
to maintain the authenticity of these figures as a testimony to 
the ancient worship of the Virgin, both appear to me to have 
taken an exaggerated and prejudiced view of a subject which 
ought to be considered dispassionately on purely antiquarian and 
critical grounds. Having had the opportunity, during a late 
residence in Italy, of reconsidering and comparing a great num- 
ber of these antique representations, and having heard the 
opinions of antiquarians, theologians, and artists, who had 
given their attention to the subject, and who occasionally dif- 
fered from each other as to the weight of evidence, I have 
arrived at the conviction that some of these effigies represent 
the Virgin Mary, and others do not. I confess I do not be- 
lieve in any authentic representation of the Virgin holding the 
Divine Child older than the sixth century, except when intro- 
duced into the groups of the Nativity and the Worship of the 
Magi. Previous to the Nestorian controversy, these maternal 
effigies, as objects of devotion, were, I still believe, unknown, 
but I cannot understand why there should exist among Prot- 
estants so strong a disposition to discredit every representation 
of Mary the Mother of our Lord to which a high antiquity had 
been assigned by the Roman Catholics. We know that as 
early as the second century, not only symbolical figures of our 
Lord, but figures of certain personages of holy life, as St. Peter 
and St. Paul, Agnes the Roman, and Euphemia the Greek, 
martyr, did certainly exist. The critical and historical testi- 
mony I have given elsewhere (Sacred and Legendary Art). 
Why, therefore, should there not have existed effigies of the 
Mother of Christ, of the " Woman highly blessed," the sub- 
ject of so many prophecies, and naturally the object of a tender 
and just veneration among the early Christians ? It seems to 
me that nothing could be more likely, and that such represen- 
tations ought to have a deep interest for all Christians, no 
matter of what denomination — for all, in truth, who believe 
that the Saviour of the world had a good Mother, his only 
earthly parent, who brought him forth, nurtured and loved 
him. That it should be considered a point of faith with Prot- 
estants to treat such memorials with incredulity, and even 
derision, appears to me most inconsistent and unaccountable, 
though I confess that between these simple primitive memorials 


and tho BUmptuOUfl tasteless column and image recently erected 
at Koine there is a very wide margin of disputable ground, of 
which 1 shall say no more in this place. Hut to return to the 
antique conception of the "Donna orante " or so-called Virgin- 
mother, I will mention here only the most remarkable ex- 
amples ; for to enter fully into the subject would occupy a 
volume in itself. 

There is a figure often met with in the Catacombs and on 
the sarcophagi, of a majestic woman standing with outspread 
arms (the ancient attitude of prayer), or holding a book or 
scroll in her hand. When this figure stands alone and unac- 
companied by any attribute, I think the signification doubtful : 
but in the catacomb of St. Ciriaco there is a painted figure of 
a woman, with arms outspread and sustained on each side by 
figures, evidently St. Peter and St. Paul ; on the sarcophagi 
the same figure frequently occurs ; and there are other examples 
certainly not later than the third and fourth century. That 
these represent Mary the Mother of Christ I have not the least 
doubt ; I think it has been fully demonstrated that no other 
Christian woman could have been so represented, considering 
the manners and habits of the Christian community at that 
period. Then the attitude and type are precisely similar to 
those of the ancient Byzantine Madonnas and the Italian mo- 
saics of Eastern workmanship, proving, as I think, that there 
existed a common traditional original for this figure, the idea 
of which has been preserved and transmitted in these early 

Further, there exist in the Roman museums many frag- 
ments of ancient glass found in the Christian tombs, on which 
are rudely pictured in colors figures exactly similar, and having 
the name MARIA inscribed above them. On one of these frag- 
ments I found the same female figure between two male figures, 
with the names inscribed over them, MARIA. PETRVS. 
PAVLVS., generally in the rudest and most imperfect style, 
as if issuing from some coarse manufacture, but showing that 
they have had a common origin with those far superior figures 
in the Catacombs and on the sarcophagi, while the inscribed 
names leave no doubt as to the significance. 

On the other hand, there are similar fragments of coarse 
glass found in the Catacombs — either lamps <>r small vases, 
bearing the same female in the attitude of prayer, and super- 



scribed in rude letters, "Dtjlcis anima pie Zeses vivas." 
(Zeses instead of Jesus.) Such may possibly represent, not 
the Virgin Mary, but the Christian matron or martyr buried 
in the tomb ; at least, I consider them as doubtful. 

The Cavaliere Rossi, whose celebrity as an antiquary is not 
merely Italian, but European, and whose impartiality can 
hardly be doubted, told me that a Christian sarcophagus had 
lately been discovered at Saint-Maxime, in the South of France, 
on which there is the same group of the female figure, praying, 
and over it the name MARIA. 

I ought to add, that on one of these sarcophagi, bearing the 
oft-repeated subject of the Good Shepherd feeding his sheep, 

I found, as the companion group, 
a female figure in the act of feed- 
ing birds, which are fluttering to 
her feet. It is not doubted that 
the Good Shepherd is the sym- 
bol of the beneficent Christ ; 
whether the female figure repre- 
sents the Virgin-mother, or is to 
be regarded merely as a general 
symbol of female beneficence, 
placed on a par with that of 
Christ (in his human character), 
I will not pretend to decide. It 
is equally touching and beautiful 
in either significance. 

I [give two] examples of 
these figures. 

The [first] example is from a 
sarcophagus. It is a figure holding a scroll of the gospel, and 
standing between St. Peter and St. Paul : on each side (in the 
original) there are groups expressing the beneficent miracles 
of our Lord. This figure, I believe, represents the Virgin 

The [second] example [shows] the manner in which this 
conspicuous female figure is combined with the series of groups 
on each side. She stands with hands outspread, in the atti- 
tude of prayer, between the two apostles, who seem to sustain 
her arms. On one side is the miracle of the water changed into 
wine ; on the other side, Christ healing the woman who touched 

-relief (early Christian sarco- 


his garment; both of perpetual recurrence in these sculptures* 

Of these groups of the miracles and actions of Christ on the 
early Christian sarcophagi, I shall give a full account in the 
" History of our Lord, as illustrated in the Fine Arts ; " at 
present I confine myself to the female figure which takes this 

Bas-relief (early Christian sarcophagus j 

conspicuous place, while other female figures are prostrate, or 
of a diminutive size, to express their humility or inferiority ; 
and I have no doubt that thus situated it is intended to repre- 
sent the woman who was highly honored as well as highly 
blessed — the Mother of our Saviour. 

I have come, therefore, to the conclusion, that while many 
of these figures have a certain significance, others are uncer- 
tain. Where the figure is isolated, or placed within a frame 
or border, like the memorial busts and effigies on the pagan 
sarcophagi, I think it may be regarded as probably commemorat- 
ing the Christian martyr or matron entombed in the sarcopha- 
gus ; but when there is no division, where the figure forms 
part of a continuous series of groups, expressing the character 
and miracles of Christ, I believe that it represents his mother. 

The condemnation of Nestorius by the Council of Ephesus, 
in the year 431, forms a most important epoch in the history 


of religious Art. I have given farther on a sketch of this 
celebrated schism, and its immediate and progressive results. 
It may be thus summed up here. The Nestorians maintained, 
that in Christ the two natures of God and man remained sep- 
arate, and that Mary, his human mother, was parent of the 
man, but not of the God ; consequently the title which, during 
the previous century, had been popularly applied to her, 

1 1 Theotokos " (Mother of God), was improper and profane. 
The party opposed to Nestorius, the Monophysites, maintained 
that in Christ the divine and human were blended in one in- 
carnate nature, and that consequently Mary was indeed the 
Mother of God. By the decree of the first Council of Ephesus, 
Xestorius and his party were condemned as heretics ; and 
henceforth the representation of that beautiful group, since 
popularly known as the " Madonna and Child," became the 
expression of the orthodox faith. Every one who wished to 
prove his hatred of the arch-heretic exhibited the image of the 
maternal Virgin holding in her arms the Infant Godhead, 
either in his house as a picture, or embroidered on his gar- 
ments, or on his furniture, on his personal ornaments" — in 
short, wherever it could be introduced. It is worth remark- 
ing that Cyril, who was so influential in fixing the orthodox 
group, had passed the greater part of his life in Egypt, and 
must have been familiar with the Egyptian type of Isis nurs- 
ing Horus. Nor, as I conceive, is there any irreverence in 
supposing that a time-honored intelligible symbol should be 
chosen to embody and formalize a creed. For it must be remem- 
bered that the group of the Mother and Child was not at first 
a representation, but merely a theological symbol set up in the 
orthodox churches, and adopted by the orthodox Christians. 

It is just after the Council of Ephesus that history first 
makes mention of a supposed authentic portrait of the Virgin 
Mary. The Empress Eudocia, when travelling in the Holy 
Land, sent home such a picture of the Virgin holding the Child 
to her sister-in-law, Pulcheria, who placed it in a church at 
Constantinople. It was at that time regarded as of very high 
antiquity, and supposed to have been painted from the life. 
It is certain that a picture traditionally said to be the same which 
Eudocia had sent to Pulcheria did exist at Constantinople, and 
was so much venerated by the people as to be regarded as a 
aort of Palladium, and borne in a superb litter or car in the 


midst of the imperial host 'when the emperor led the army 
in person. The fate of this relic is not certainly known. It 
is said to have been taken by the Turks in L453, and dragged 

through the mire ; but others deny this as utterly derogatory 
to the majesty of the Queen of Heaven, who never would have 
Buffered such an indignity to have been put on her sacred 
image. "According to the Venetian legend, it was this iden- 
tical effigy which was taken by the blind old Dandolo, when 
he besieged and took Constantinople in 1204, and brought in 
triumph to Venice, where it has ever since been preserved in 
the church of St. Mark and held in somma penerazume. No 
mention is made of St. Luke in the earliest account of this 
picture, though, like all the antique effigies of uncertain origin, 
it was in after times attributed to him. 

The history of the next three hundred years testifies to the 
triumph of orthodoxy, the extension and popularity of the 
worship of the Virgin, and the consequent multiplication of 
her image, in every form and material, through the whole of 

Then followed the schism of the Iconoclasts, which dis- 
tracted the Church for more than one hundred years, under 
Leo III., the Isaurian, and his immediate successors. Such 
were the extravagances of superstition to which the image- 
worship had led the excitable Orientals, that, if Leo had been 
a wise and temperate reformer, he might have done much good 
in checking its excesses ; but he was himself an ignorant, mer- 
ciless barbarian. The persecution by which he sought to 
exterminate the sacred pictures of the Madonna, and the 
cruelties exercised on her unhappy votaries, produced a gen- 
eral destruction of the most curious and precious remains of 
antique Art. In other respects, the immediate result was 
naturally enough a reaction, which not only reinstated pictures 
in the veneration of the people, but greatly increased their 
influence over the imagination ; for it is at this time that we 
first hear of a miraculous picture. Among those who most 
strongly defended the use of sacred images in the churches was 
St. John Damascene, one of the great lights of the Oriental 
Church. According to the Greek legend, he was condemned 
to lose his right hand, which was accordingly cut off ; but he, 
full of faith, prostrating himself before a picture of the Virgin, 
stretched out the bleeding stump, and with it touched her 


lips, and immediately a new hand sprung forth " like a branch 
from a tree." Hence, among the Greek effigies of the Virgin, 
there is one, peculiarly commemorative of this miracle, styled 
"the Virgin with three hands." (Didron, Christian Iconogra- 
phy, vol. ii. p. 397.) In the west of Europe, where the abuses 
of the image-worship had never yet reached the wild super- 
stition of the Oriental Christians, the fury of the Iconoclasts 
excited horror and consternation. The temperate and eloquent 
apology for sacred pictures, addressed by Gregory II. to the 
Emperor Leo, had the effect of mitigating the persecution in 
Italy, where the work of destruction could not be carried out 
to the same extent as in the Byzantine provinces. Hence 
it is in Italy only that any important remains of sacred Art 
anterior to the Iconoclast dynasty have been preserved. 1 

The second Council of Nice, under the Empress Irene, in 
787 condemned the Iconoclasts, and restored the use of the 
sacred pictures in the churches. Nevertheless, the controversy 
still raged till after the death of Theophilus, the last and the 
most cruel of the Iconoclasts, in 842. His widow Theodora 
achieved the final triumph of the orthodox party, and restored 
the Virgin to her throne. We must observe, however, that 
only pictures were allowed ; all sculptured imagery was still 
prohibited, and has never since been allowed in the Greek 
Church, except in very low relief. The natter the surface, the 
more orthodox. 

It is, I think, about 886 that we first find the effigy of the 
Virgin on the coins of the Greek empire. On a gold coin of 
Leo VI., the Philosopher, she stands veiled, and draped, with 
a noble head, no glory, and the arms outspread, just as she ap- 
pears in the old mosaics. On a coin of Romanus the Younger, 
she crowns the emperor, having herself the nimbus ; she is 
draped and veiled. On a coin of Nicephorus Phocus (who 
had great pretensions to piety), the Virgin stands, presenting 
a cross to the emperor, with .the inscription, " Theotokos, be 
propitious." On a gold coin of John Zimisces, 975, we first 
find the Virgin and Child, — the symbol merely : she holds 

. I It appears, from one of these letters from Gregory II., that it was the cus- 
tom at that time (725) to employ religious pictures as a means of instruction in 
the schools. He says, that if Leo were to enter a school in Italy, and to say that 
he prohibited pictures, the children would infallibly throw their horn-books 
(tavolezze del alfabeto) at his head. Vide Bosio, p. 567. 


against her bosom a circular glory, within which is the head 
of the Infant Christ. In the successive reigns of the next 
two centuries she almost constantly appears as crowning the 

Returning to the West, we find that in the succeeding period, 
from Charlemagne to the first crusade, the popular devotion to 
the Virgin, and the multiplication of sacred pictures, continued 
steadily to increase ; yet in the tenth and eleventh centuries 
Art was at its lowest ebb. At this time the subjects relative 
to the Virgin were principally the Madonna and Child, rep- 
resented according to the Greek form, and those scenes from 
the Gospel in which she is introduced, as the Annunciation, 
the Nativity, and the Worship of the Magi. 

Towards the end of the tenth century the custom of adding 
the angelic salutation, the Ave Maria, to the Lord's prayer, 
was first introduced; and by the end of the following century 
it had been adopted in the offices of the Church. This was, at 
first, intended as a perpetual reminder of the mystery of the 
Incarnation, as announced by the angel. It must have had 
the effect of keeping the idea of Mary as united with that of 
her Son, and as the instrument of the Incarnation, continually 
in the minds of the people. 

The pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and the crusades in tlu 
eleventh and the twelfth centuries, had a most striking effect 
on religious Art, though this effect was not fully evolved till a 
century later. More particularly did this returning wave of 
Oriental influences modify the representations of the Virgin. 
Fragments of the apocryphal gospels and legends of Palestine 
and Egypt were now introduced, worked up into ballads, 
stories, and dramas, and gradually incorporated with the 
teaching of the Church. A great variety of subjects derived 
from the Greek artists, and from particular localities and tra- 
ditions of the East, became naturalized in Western Europe. 
Among these were the legends of Joachim and Anna; and the 
death, the assumption, and the coronation of the Virgin. 

Then came the thirteenth century, an era notable in the his- 
tory of mind, more especially notable in the history of Art. 
The seed scattered hither and thither, during the stormy and 
warlike period of the crusades, now sprung up and flourished, 
bearing diverse fruit. A more contemplative enthusiasm, a su- 
perstition tinged with a morbid melancholy, fermented into life 


and form. In that general " fit of compunction" which we 
are told seized all Italy at this time, the passionate devotion 
for the benign Madonna mingled the poetry of pity with that 
of pain ; and assuredly this state of feeling, with its mental 
and moral requirements, must have assisted in emancipating 
Art from the rigid formalism of the degenerate Greek school. 
Men's hearts, throbbing with a more feeling, more pensive 
life, demanded something more like life — and produced it. 
It is curious to trace in the Madonnas of contemporary, but far 
distant and unconnected schools of painting, the simultaneous 
dawning of a sympathetic sentiment — for the first time some- 
thing in the faces of the divine beings responsive to the feel- 
ing of the worshippers. It was this, perhaps, which caused 
the enthusiasm excited by Cimabue's great Madonna [Rucel- 
lai chapel, Santa Maria Novella, Florence], and made the peo- 
ple shout and dance for joy when it was uncovered before them. 
Compared with the spectral rigidity, the hard monotony, 
of the conventional Byzantines, the more animated eyes, 
the little touch of sweetness in the still, mild face, must have 
been like a smile out of heaven. As we trace the same softer 
influence in the earliest Siena and Cologne pictures of about 
the same period, we may fairly regard it as an impress of the 
spirit of the time, rather than that of an individual mind. 

In the succeeding -century these elements of poetic Art, ex- 
panded and animated by an awakened observation of nature, 
and a sympathy with her external manifestations, were most 
especially directed by the increasing influence of the worship 
of the Virgin, a worship at once religious and chivalrous. 
The title of " Our Lady " J came first into general use in the 
days of chivalry, for she was the lady " of all hearts," whose 
colors all were proud to wear. Never had her votaries so 
abounded. Hundreds upon hundreds had enrolled themselves 
in brotherhoods, vowed to her especial service ; 2 or devoted 
to acts of charity, to be performed in her name. 3 Already the 
great religious communities, which at this time comprehended 
all the enthusiasm, learning, and influence of the Church, had 
placed themselves solemnly and especially under her protec- 

1 Fr. Notre Dame. Ital. La Madonna. Ger. Unser liebe Frau. 

2 As the Serviti, who were called in France, lesesclaves de Marie. 

3 As the order of " Our Lady of Mercy,"' for the deliverance of captives.— 
Vide Legends of the Monastic Orders. 


tion. The Cistercians wore white in honor of her purity ; the 
Servi wore black in respect to her sorrowi ; the Franciscans 

had enrolled themselves as champions of the Immaculate Con- 
ception; and the Dominicans introduced the rosary. All these 
richly endowed communities vied with each other in multiply- 
ing churches, chapels, and pictures, in honor of their patroness, 
and expressive of her several attributes. The devout painter, 
kneeling before his easel, addressed himself to the task of por- 
traying those heavenly lineaments which had visited him per- 
haps in dreams. Many of the professed monks and friars 
became themselves accomplished artists. 1 

At this time Jacopo di Voragine compiled the " Golden 
Legend," a collection of sacred stories, some already current, 
some new, or in a new form. This famous book added many 
themes to those already admitted, and became the authority 
and storehouse for the early painters in their groups and dra- 
matic compositions. The increasing enthusiasm for the Virgin 
naturally caused an increasing demand for the subjects taken 
from her personal history, and led, consequently, to a more 
exact study of those natural objects and effects which were 
required as accessories, to greater skill in grouping the figures, 
and to a higher development of historic Art. 

^But of all the influences on Italian Art in that wonderful 
fourteenth century, Dante was the greatest.^) He was the inti- 
mate friend of Giotto. Through the communion of mind, not 
less than through his writings, he infused into religious Art 
that mingled theology, poetry, and mysticism which ruled in 
the Giottesque school during the following century, and went 
hand in hand with the development of the power and practice 
of imitation. Now the theology of Dante was the theology 
of his age. ^His ideas respecting the Virgin Mary were pre- 
cisely those to which the writings of St. Bernard, St. Bona* 
ventura, and St. Thomas Aquinas had already lent all the 
persuasive power of eloquence, and the Church all the weight 
of her authority. Dante rendered these doctrines into poetry, 
and Giotto and his followers rendered them into forin.N In the 

1 A very curious and startling example of the theological character of the Vir- 
gin in the thirteenth century is figured in Miss Twining*! work, The Symbols of 
Early Christian and Mediwrnl Art ; certainly the most complete and useful 
hook of the kind which I know of. Here the Madonna and Child are seated 
Bitie by side with the Trinity, the Holy Spirit resting on her crowned head. 
Page 76, plate 83. 


Paradiso of Dante, the glorification of Mary, as the " Mystic 
Rose " {Rosa mysticd) and Queen of Heaven — with the 
attendant angels, circle within circle, floating round her in 
adoration, and singing the Regi7ia Cceli, and saints and patri- 
archs stretching forth their hands towards her — is all a 
splendid but still indefinite vision of dazzling light crossed 
by shadowy forms. The painters of the fourteenth century, in 
translating these glories into a definite shape, had to deal with 
imperfect knowledge and imperfect means ; they failed in the 
power to realize either their own or the poet's conception ; 
and yet — thanks to the divine poet ! — that early conception 
of some of the most beautiful of the Madonna subjects — for 
instance, the Coronation and the SjwsalLzio — has never, as 
a religious and poetical conception, been surpassed by later 
artists, in spite of all the appliances of color, and mastery of 
light and shade, and marvellous efficiency ol hand since 

Every reader of Dante will remember the sublime hymn 
towards the close of the Paradiso [canto xxxiii.] : — 

Vergine Madre, figlia del tuo figlio ! 
Umile ed alta piu che creatura, 
Termine fisso d' eterno consiglio; 

Tu se' colei che 1' umana natura 
Nobilitasti s\, che '1 suo fattore 
Non disdegno di farsi sua fattura; . 

Nel ventre tuo si raccese V amore 
Per lo cui caldo nell' eterna pace 
Cos\ e germinato questo fiore; 

Qui se' a noi meridians face 
Di caritade, e giuso intra mortali 
Se' di speranza fontana vivace : 
Donna se' tanto grande e tanto vali, 
Che qual vuol grazia e a te non ricorre 
Sua disianza vuol volar senz' ali; 

La tua benignita non pur soccorre 
A chi dimanda, ma molte hate 
Liberamente all dimandar precorre; 
In te misericordia, in te pietate, 
In te magnificenza, in te s' aduna 
Quantunque in creatura e di bontate! 

To render the splendor, the terseness, the harmony of this 
magnificent hymn, seems impossible. Gary's translation has, 
however, the merit of fidelity to the sense : — 


O Virgin-mother, daughter <>f thy Son! 
Created beings all in lowliness 
Surpassing, as in height above them all; 

Term by the eternal counsel preordained; 

Bnnobler of thy nature, so advanc'd 

In thee, that its great Maker did m>t scorn 

To make himself his own creation; 

For in thy womb, rekindling, shone the love 

BeveaPd, whose genial influence makes now 

This Mower to germ in in eternal pence: 
Here thou, to ns, of charity and love 
Art as the noon-day torch ; and art beneath, 
To mortal men, of hope a living spring. 
So mighty art thou, Lady, and so great, 
That he who grace desireth, and conies not 
To thee for aidance, fain would have desire 
Fly without wings. Not only him who asks, 
Thy bounty succors; but doth freely oft 
Forerun the asking. Whatsoe'er may be 
Of excellence in creature, pity mild, 
Relenting mercy, large muniticence, 
Are all combin'd in thee ! 

It is interesting to turn to the corresponding stanzas in 
Chaucer. The invocation to the Virgin with which lie com- 
mences the story of St. Cecilia is rendered almost word for 
word from Dante : — 

Thou Maid and Mother, daughter of thy Son ! 
Thou wel of mercy, sinful soules cure ! 

The last stanza of the invocation is his own, and as character- 
istic of the practical Chaucer as it would have been contrary 
to the genius of Dante : — 

And for that faith is dead withouten workis, 
So for to worken give me w r it and grace ! 
That I be quit from thence that most dark is; 
O thou that art so fair and full of grace, 
Be thou mine advocate in that high place, 
There, as withouten end is sung Ilozanne, 
Thou Christes mother, daughter dear of Anne ! 

Still more beautiful and more his own is the invocation in the 
" Prioress's Tale." I give the stanzas as modernized by Words- 
worth : — 

Mother Maid ! Maid and Mother free! 
O bush unburnt, burning in Moses' sight! 
That down didst ravish from the Deity, 
Through humbleness, the Spirit that did alight 


Upon thy heart, whence, through that glory's might, 
Conceived was the Father's sapience, 
Help me to tell it in thy reverence ! 

Lad}', thy goodness, thy magnificence, 

Thy virtue, and thy great humility, 

Surpass all science and all utterance ; 

For sometimes, Lady ! ere men pray to thee. 

Thou go'st before in thy benignity, 

The light to us vouchsafing of thy prayer, 

To be our guide unto* thy Son so dear. 

My knowledge is so weak, O blissful Queen, 
To tell abroad thy mighty worthiness, 
That I the weight of it may not sustain; 
But as a child of twelve months old, or less, 
That laboreth his language to express, 
Even so fare I; and therefore, I thee pray, 
Guide thou my song, which I of thee shall say. 

And again, we may turn to Petrarch's hymn to the Virgin, 
wherein he prays to be delivered from his love and everlasting 
regrets for Laura : — 

Vergine bella, che di sol vestita, 
Coronata di stelle, al sommo Sole 
Piacesti si, che 'n te sua luce ascose. 

Vergine pura, d' ogni parte intera, 
Del tuo parto gentil ligliuola e madre! 

Vergine sola al mondo senza esempio, 
Che '1 ciel di tue bellezze innamorasti. 1 

The fancy of the theologians of the middle ages played 
rather dangerously, as it appears to me, for the uninitiated and 
uninstructed, with the perplexity of these divine relationships. 
It is impossible not to feel that in their admiration for the 
divine beauty of Mary, in borrowing the amatory language and 

1 [Beautiful Virgin! clothed with the sun, 
Crown'd with the stars ; who so the Eternal Sun 
"Well pleasedst that in thine His light He hid. 

O Virgin ! pure and perfect in each part, 
Maiden or Mother. 

Virgin! of all unparallel'd, alone, 

Who with thy beauties hast enamored Heaven. 

The Sonnets, Triumphs, and other Poems of Petrarch, translated into Eng- 
lish Verse by Various Hands. Bohn, 1859.] 


luxuriant allegories of the Canticles, which represent her as an 
object of delight to the supreme Being, theologians, poets, and 
artists had wrought themselves up to a wild pitch of enthusi- 
asm. In such passages as those 1 have quoted above, and in 
the grand old Church hymns, we find the best commentary and 
interpretation of the sacred pictures of the fourteenth and 
fifteenth centuries. Yet during the thirteenth century there 
was a purity in the spirit of the worship which at once inspired 
and regulated the forms in which it was manifested. The An- 
nunciations and Nativities were still distinguished by a chaste 
and sacred simplicity. The features of the Madonna herself, 
even where they were not what we call beautiful, had yet a 
touch of that divine and contemplative grace which the theo- 
logians and the poets had associated with the queenly, mater- 
nal, and bridal character of Mary. 

Thus the impulses given in the early part of the fourteenth 
century continued in progressive development through the 
fifteenth ; the spiritual for some time in advance of the ma- 
terial influences ; the moral idea emanating as it were from the 
soul, and the influences of external nature flowing into it ; the 
comprehensive power of fancy using more and more the appre- 
hensive power of imitation, and both working together till 
their " blended might " achieved its full fruition in the works 
of Raphael. 

Early in the fifteenth century, the Council of Constance 
(a. d. 1414) and the condemnation of Huss gave a new im- 
pulse to the w r orship of the Virgin. The Hussite wars, and 
the sacrilegious indignity with which her sacred images had 
been treated in the north, filled her orthodox votaries of the 
south of Europe with a consternation and horror like that ex- 
cited by the Iconoclasts of the eighth century, and were fol- 
lowed by a similar reaction. The Church was called upon to 
assert more strongly than ever its orthodox veneration for her, 
and, as a natural consequence, votive pictures multiplied ; the 
works of the excelling artists of the fifteenth century testify 
to the zeal of the votaries and the kindred spirit in which the 
painters worked. 

Gerson, a celebrated French priest, and chancellor of the 
university of Paris, distinguished himself in the Council of 
Constance by the eloquence with which he pleaded for the 1m- 


maculate Conception, and the enthusiasm with which he 
preached in favor of instituting a festival in honor of this 
mystery, as well as another in honor of Joseph, the husband 
of the Virgin. In both he was unsuccessful during his life- 
time ; but for both eventually his writings prepared the way. 
He also composed a Latin poem of three thousand lines in 
praise of Joseph, which was among the first works published 
after the invention of printing. Together with St. Joseph, 
the parents of the Virgin, St. Anna more particularly, became 
objects of popular veneration, and all were at length exalted 
to the rank of patron saints, by having festivals instituted in 
their honor. It is towards the end of the fifteenth century, 
or rather a little later, that we first meet with that charming 
domestic group called the " Holy Family," afterwards so pop- 
ular, so widely diffused, and treated with such an infinite 

Towards the end of this century sprung up a new influence 
— the revival of classical learning, a passionate enthusiasm for 
the poetry and mythology of the Greeks, and a taste for the 
remains of antique Art. This influence on the representations 
of the Virgin, as far as it was merely external, was good. An 
added dignity and grace, a more free and correct drawing, a 
truer feeling for harmony of proportion and all that consti- 
tutes elegance, were gradually infused into the forms and at- 
titudes. But dangerous became the craving for mere beauty — 
dangerous the study of the classical and heathen literature. 
This was the commencement of that thoroughly pagan taste 
which in the following century demoralized Christian Art. 
There was now an attempt at varying the arrangement of the 
sacred groups which led to irreverence, or at best to a sort of 
superficial mannered grandeur ; and from this period we date 
the first introduction of the portrait Virgins. An early, and 
most scandalous, example [by Pinturicchio] remains to us in 
one of the frescoes in the Vatican [in one of the Appartamenti 
Borgia] which represents Giulia Farnese in the character of 
the Madonna, and Pope Alexander VI. (the infamous Borgia) 
kneeling at her feet in the character of a votary. Under the 
influence of the Medici the churches of Florence were filled 
with pictures of the Virgin, in which the only thing aimed at 
was an alluring and even meretricious beauty. Savonarola 


thundered from his pulpit in the garden of San Marco against 
these impieties. He exclaimed against the profanenesa of 
those who represented the meek mother <>f Christ in gorgeous 

apparel, with head unveiled, and under the features of women 
too well and publicly known, lie emphatically declared that 
if the painters knew as well as he did the influence of such 
pictures in perverting simple minds, they would hold their own 
works in horror and detestation. Savonarola yielded to none 
in orthodox reverence for the Madonna ; but he desired that 
she should be represented in an orthodox manner. He perished 
at the stake, but not till after he had made a bonfire in the 
Piazza at Florence of the offensive effigies ; he perished — per- 
secuted to death by the Borgia family. But his influence on 
the greatest Florentine artists of his time is apparent in the 
Virgins of Botticelli, Lorenzo di Credi, and Fra Bartolommeo, 
all of whom had been his friends, admirers, and disciples ; 
and all, differing from each other, were alike in this, that, 
whether it be the dignified severity of Botticelli, or the chaste 
simplicity of Lorenzo di Credi, or the noble tenderness of rra 
Bartolommeo, we feel that each of them had aimed to portray 
worthily the sacred character of the Mother of the Redeemer. 
And to these, as I think, we might add Raphael himself, who 
visited Florence but a short time after the horrible execution 
of Savonarola, and must have learned through his friend Bar. 
tolommeo to mourn the fate and revere the memory of that re 
markable man, whom he placed afterwards in the grand fresco 
of the " Theologia," among the doctors and teachers of the 
Church. (Vatican, Rome.) Of the numerous Virgins painted 
by Raphael in after times, not one is supposed to have been a 
portrait: he says himself, in a letter to Count Castiglione, 
that he painted from an idea in his own mind, " mi servo d' 
una certa idea che mi viene in mente ; " while in the contem- 
porary works of Andrea del Sarto we have the features of 
his handsome but vulgar wife in every Madonna he painted. 1 

In the beginning of the sixteenth century, the constellation 
of living genius in every department of Art, the riches of the 

1 The tendency to portraiture, in early Florentine and German Art, is ob- 
servable from an early period. The historical sacred subjects of Masaccio, 
Ghirlandajo, and Van Eyck are crowded with portraits of living personages. 
Their introduction into devotional subjects, in the character of sacred persons, 
is far less excusable. 


Church, the luxurious habits and classical studies of the 
churchmen, the decline of religious conviction, and the ascend- 
ency of religious controversy, had combined to multiply church 
pictures, particularly those of a large and decorative character. 
But, instead of the reign of faith, we had now the reign of 
taste. There was an absolute passion for picturesque group- 
ing ; and, as the assembled figures were to be as varied as pos- 
sible in action and attitude, the artistic treatment, in order to 
prevent the lines of form and the colors of the draperies from 
interfering with each other, required great skill and profound 
study : some of these scenic groups have become, in the hands 
of great painters, such as Titian, Paul Veronese, and Annibal 
Caracci, so magnificent, that we are inclined to forgive their 
splendid errors. The influence of Sanazzaro, and of his 
famous Latin poem on the Nativity (I)e Partu Virginis), 
on the artists of the middle of the sixteenth century, and on the 
choice and treatment of the subjects pertaining to the Ma- 
donna, can hardly be calculated ; it was like that of Dante in 
tiie fourteenth century, but in its nature and result how differ- 
ent ! The grand materialism of Michael Angelo is supposed to 
have been allied to the genius of Dante ; but would Dante have 
acknowledged the group of the Holy Family in the Florentine 
Gallery, to my feeling one of the most profane and offensive 
of the so-called religious pictures, in conception and execution, 
which ever proceeded from the mind or hand of a great 
painter ? No doubt some of the sculptural Virgins of Michael 
Angelo are magnificent and stately in attitude and expression, 
but too austere and mannered as religious conceptions ; nor 
can we wonder if the predilection for the treatment of mere 
form led his followers and imitators into every species of exag- 
geration and affectation. In the middle of the sixteenth cen- 
tury, the same artist who painted a Leda, or a Psyche, or a 
Venus one day, painted for the same patron a Virgin of Mercy, 
or a " Mater Purissima " on the morrow. Here, the votary 
told his beads, and recited his Aves, before the blessed Mother 
of the Redeemer ; there, she was invoked in the purest Latin 
by titles which the classical mythology had far otherwise con- 
secrated. I know nothing more disgusting in Art than the 
long-limbed, studied, inflated Madonnas, looking grand with 
all their might, of this period ; luckily they have fallen into 
such disrepute that we seldom see them. The ' " Madonna del 


lungo Collo " of Parmigiano (Pitti, Florence) might be cited 
as a favorable example of this mistaken and wholly artificial 


But in the midst of these paganized and degenerate influ- 
ences, the reform in the discipline of the Roman Catholic 
Church was preparing a revolution in religious Art. The 
Council of Trent had severely denounced the impropriety of 
certain pictures admitted into churches: at the same time, in 
the conflict of creeds which now divided Christendom, the 
agencies of Art could not safely be neglected by that Church 
which had used them with such signal success. Spiritual Art 
was indeed no more. It was dead : it could never be revived 
without a return to those modes of thought and belief which had 
at first inspired it. Instead of religious Art, appeared what I 
must call theological Art. Among the events of this age 
which had great influence on the worship and the representa- 
tions of the Madonna, I must place the battle of Lepanto, in 
1571, in which the combined fleets of Christendom, led by 
Don Juan of Austria, achieved a memorable victory over the 
Turks. This victory was attributed by Pope Pius V. to the 
especial interposition of the Blessed Virgin. A new invocation 
was now added to her Litany, under the title of Auxiliwm 
Christ i<t novum ; a new festival, that of the Rosary, was now 
added to those already held in her honor ; and all the artistic 
genius which existed in Italy, and all the piety of orthodox 
Christendom, were now laid under contribution to encase in 
marble sculpture, to enrich with countless offerings, that 
miraculous house, which the angels had borne over land and 
sea, and set down at Loretto ; and that miraculous, bejewelled, 
and brocaded Madonna, enshrined within it. 

In the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Caracci 
school gave a new impetus to religious, or rather, as it had 
been styled in contradistinction, sacerdotal or theological Art. 
If these great painters had been remarkable merely for the 
application of new artistic methods, for the success with which 
they combined the aims of various schools — 

Di Michel An^iol la terribil via 

E M vcro natural di Tiziano, 

the study of the antique with the observation of real life — 
their works undoubtedly would never have taken such a hold 


on the minds of their contemporaries, nor kept it so long. 
Everything to live must have an infusion of truth within 
it, and this " patch-work ideal," as it has been well styled, was 
held together by such a principle. The founders of the Caracci 
school, and their immediate followers, felt the influences of the 
time, and worked them out. They were devout believers in 
their Church, and most sincere worshippers of the Madonna. 
Guido, in particular, was so distinguished by his passionate 
enthusiasm for her, that he was supposed to have been favored 
by a particular vision, which enabled him more worthily to 
represent her divine beauty. 

It is curious that, hand in hand with this development of 
taste and feeling in the appreciation of natural sentiment and 
beauty, and this tendency to realism, we find the associations 
of a peculiar and specific sanctity remaining with the old Byzan- 
tine type. This arose from the fact, always to be borne in 
mind, that the most ancient artistic figure of the Madonna was 
a purely theological symbol : apparently the moral type was 
too nearly allied to the human and the real to satisfy faith. 
It is the ugly, dark-colored, ancient Greek Madonnas, such as 
this, which had all along the credit of being miraculous ; and 
" to this day," says Kugler, " the Neapolitan lemonade-seller 
will allow no other than a formal Greek Madonna, with olive- 
green complexion and veiled head, to be set up in his booth. 
It is the same in Kussia. Such pictures, in which there is no 
attempt at representation, real or ideal, and which merely have 
a sort of imaginary sanctity and power, are not so much idols 
as they are mere fetishes. The most lovely Madonna by 
Raphael or Titian would not have the same effect. Guido, 
who himself painted lovely Virgins, went every Saturday to 
pray before the little black Madonna della Guardia [near 
Bologna], and, as we are assured, held this old Eastern relic 
in devout veneration." 

In the pictures of the Madonna, produced by the most emi- 
nent painters of the seventeenth century, is embodied the the- 
ology of the time. The Virgin Mary is not, like the Madonna 
di San Sisto, " a single projection of the artist's mind," but, 
as far as he could put his studies together, she is "a compound 
of every creature's best," sometimes majestic, sometimes grace- 
ful, often full of sentiment, elegance, and refinement, but 
wanting wholly in the spiritual element. If the Madonna did. 


really sit to Guido in person, 1 we fancy she must have re- 
vealed her loveliness, but veiled her divinity. 

Without doubt the finest Madonnas of the seventeenth 
century are those produced by the Spanish school ; not because 
they more realize our spiritual conception of the Virgin — 
quite the contrary : for here the expression of life through 
sensation and emotion prevails over abstract mind, grandeur, 
and grace — but because the intensely human and sympathetic 
character given to the Madonna appeals most strongly to our 
human nature. The appeal is to the faith through the feel- 
ings, rather than through the imagination. Morales and 
Ribera excelled in the Mater Dolorosa ; and who has surpassed 
Murillo in the tender exultation of maternity ? 2 There is a 
freshness and a depth of feeling in the best Madonnas of the 
late Spanish school which puts to shame the mannerism of 
the Italians and the naturalism of the Flemish painters of the 
same period ; and this because the Spaniards were intense and 
enthusiastic believers, not mere thinkers, in Art as in religion. 

As in the sixth century, the favorite dogma of the time 
(the union of the divine and human nature in Christ, and the 
dignity of Mary as parent of both) had been embodied in the 
group of the Virgin and Child, so now, in the seventeenth, 
the doctrine of the eternal sanctification and predestination 
of Mary was, after a long controversy, triumphant, and took 
form in the " Immaculate Conception ; " that beautiful subject 
in which Guido and Murillo excelled, and which became the 
darling theme of the later schools of Art. It is worthy of 
remark, that while in the sixth century, and for a thousand 
years afterwards, the Virgin, in all devotional subjects, was 
associated in some visible manner with her divine Son, in this 
she appears without the Infant in her arms. The maternal 
character is set aside, and she stands alone, absolute in herself, 
and complete in her own perfections. This is a very signifi- 
cant characteristic of the prevalent theology of the time. 

I forbear to say much of the productions of a school of Art 
which sprang up simultaneously with that of the Caracci, and 
in the end overpowered its higher aspirations. The Natural- 
isti, as they were called, imitated nature without selection, and 

1 See Malvasia. Felsina Pittrice. 

2 See in the Handbook to the Private Galleries of Art some remarks on the 
tendencies of the Spanish School. 


produced so\Ae charming painters. But their religious pictures 
are almost intolerable, and their Madonnas are almost all por- 
traits. Rubens and Albano painted their wives ; Allori and 
Vandyck their mistresses ; Domenichino his daughter. Sal- 
vator "Rosa, in his Satires, exclaims against this general pro- 
faneness in terms not less strong than those of Savonarola in 
his Sermons ; but the corruption was by this time beyond the 
reach of cure ; the sin could neither be preached nor chided 
away. Striking effects of light and shade, peculiar attitudes, 
scenic groups, the perpetual and dramatic introduction of 
legendary scenes and personages, of visions and miracles of the 
Madonna vouchsafed to her votaries, characterize the produc- 
tions of the seventeenth century. As " they who are whole 
need not a physician, but they who are sick," so in proportion 
to the decline of faith were the excitements to faith, or rather 
to credulity : just in proportion as men were less inclined to 
believe were the wonders multiplied which they were called 
on to believe. 

I have not spoken of the influence of Jesuitism on Art. 
This Order kept alive that devotion for the Madonna which 
their great founder Loyola had so ardently professed when he 
chose for the Lady of his thoughts, " no princess, no duchess, 
but one far greater, more peerless." The learning of the 
Jesuits supplied some themes not hitherto in use, principally 
of a fanciful and allegorical kind, and never had the meek 
Mary been so decked out with earthly ornament as in their 
church pictures. If the sanctification of simplicity, gentleness, 
maternal love, and heroic fortitude, were calculated to elevate 
the popular mind, the sanctification of mere glitter and orna- 
ment, embroidered robes, and jewelled crowns, must have 
tended to degrade it. It is surely an unworthy and a foolish 
excuse that, in thus desecrating with the vainest and most vul- 
gar finery the beautiful ideal of the Virgin, an appeal was 
made to the awe and admiration of vulgar and ignorant minds ; 
for this is precisely what, in all religious imagery, should be 
avoided. As, however, this sacrilegious millinery does not 
come within the province of the Fine Arts, I may pass it over 

Among the Jesuit prints of the seventeenth century, I re- 
member one which represents the Virgin and Child in the 
centre, and around are the most famous heretics of all ages, 


lying prostrate, or hanging by the neck. Julian the Apostate; 
Leo the Isaurian ; his son, Constantine Capronymus ; Arius ; 
Nestorius ; Manicheus ; Luther ; Calvin — very characteristic 
of the age of controversy which had succeeded to the age of 
faith, when, instead of solemn saints and grateful votaries, we 
have dead or dying heretics surrounding the Mother of Mercy ! 

After this rapid sketch of the influences which modified in 
a general way the pictures of the Madonna, we may array be- 
fore us and learn to compare, the types which distinguished in 
a more particular manner the separate schools, caught from 
some more local or individual impulses. Thus we have the 
stern, awful quietude of the old Mosaics ; the hard lifelessness 
of the degenerate Greek ; the pensive sentiment of the Siena, 
and stately elegance of the Florentine Madonnas ; the intel- 
lectual Milanese, with their large foreheads and thoughtful 
eyes ; the tender, refined mysticism of the Umbrian ; the 
sumptuous loveliness of the Venetian ; the quaint, characteris- 
tic simplicity of the early German, so stamped with their 
nationality, that I never looked round me in a roomful of 
German girls without thinking of Albert Diirer's Virgins ; the 
intense lifelike feeling of the Spanish ; the prosaic, portrait- 
like nature of the Flemish schools ; and so on. But here an 
obvious question suggests itself. In the midst of all this di- 
versity, these ever-changing influences, was there no character- 
istic type universally accepted, suggested by common religious 
associations, if not defined by ecclesiastical authority, to which 
the artist was bound to conform ? How is it that the imper- 
sonation of the Virgin fluctuated, not only with the fluctuating 
tendencies of successive ages, but even with the caprices of the 
individual artists. 

This leads us back to reconsider the sources from which the 
artist drew his inspiration. 

The legend which represents St. Luke the Evangelist as a 
painter appears to be of Eastern origin, and quite unknown in 
Western Europe before the first crusade. It crept in then, 
and was accepted with many other oriental superstitions and 
traditions. It may have originated in the real existence of a 
Greek painter named Luca — a saint, too, he may have been ; 
for the Greeks have a whole calendar of canonized artists — 
painters, poets, and musicians ; and this Greek San Luca may 


have been a painter of those Madonnas imported from the 
ateliers of Mount Athos into the West by merchants and pil- 
grims ; and the West, which knew but of one St. Luke, may 
have easily confounded the painter and the evangelist. 

But we must also remember that St. Luke the Evangelist 
was early regarded as the great authority with respect to the 
few Scripture particulars relating to the character and life of 
Mary ; so that, in the figurative sense, he may be said to have 
painted that portrait of her which has been since received as 
the perfect type of womanhood : 1. Her noble, trustful hu- 
mility, when she receives the salutation of the angel; the 
complete and feminine surrender of her whole being to the 
higher holier will, — " Be it unto me according to thy word " 
(Luke i. 38). 2. Then, the decision and prudence of charac- 
ter shown in her visit to Elizabeth, her elder relative ; her jour- 
ney in haste over the hills to consult with her cousin, which 
journey it is otherwise difficult to accord with the oriental cus- 
toms of the time, unless Mary, young as she was, had possessed 
unusual promptitude and energy of disposition (Luke i. 39, 40). 
3. The proof of her intellectual power in the beautiful hymn 
she has left us, " My soul doth magnify the Lord " (Luke i. 
46). The commentators are not agreed as to whether this 
effusion was poured forth by immediate inspiration, or com- 
posed and written down, because the same words, " and Mary 
said," may be interpreted in either sense ; but we can no more 
doubt her being the authoress than we can doubt of any other 
particulars recorded in the same Gospel : it proves that she 
must have been, for her time and country, most rarely gifted 
in mind, and deeply read in the Scriptures. 4. She was of a 
contemplative, reflecting, rather silent disposition. " She kept 
all these sayings, and pondered them in her heart" (Luke ii. 
19). She made no boast of that wondrous and most blessed 
destiny to which she was called ; she thought upon it in silence. 
It is inferred that as many of these sayings and events could 
be known to herself alone, St. Luke the Evangelist could have 
learned them only from her own lips. 5. Next, her truly 
maternal devotion to her divine Son, whom she attended hum- 
bly through his whole ministry ; 1 6, and lastly, the sublime 
fortitude and faith with which she followed her Son to the 

1 Milton places in the mouth of our Saviour, an allusion to the influence of 
his Mother in early life : — 


death scene (Luke xxiii. f 27), stood beside the cross till all 
was finished (John xix. 25)j and then went home, and lived; 

for she was to be to us an example of all that a woman could 
endure, as well as all that a woman could be and act out in 
her earthly life. Such was the character of Mary ; such the 
portrait really painted by St. Luke, and, as it seems to me, 
these scattered, artless, unintentional notices of conduct and 
character converge into the most perfect moral type of the in- 
tellectual, tender, simple, and heroic woman that ever was 
placed before us for our editication and example. 

But in the Church traditions and enactments, another char- 
acter was, from the fifth century, assigned to her, out of which 
grew the theological type, very beautiful and exalted, but ab- 
sorbing to a great degree the scriptural and moral type, and 
substituting for the merely human attributes others borrowed 
from her relation to the great scheme of redemption ; for it 
was contended that, as the mother of The Divine, she could 
not be herself less than divine ; consequently above the angels, 
and first of all created beings. According to the doctrine of 
the Immaculate Conception, her tender woman's wisdom became 
supernatural gifts ; the beautiful humility was changed into a 
knowledge of her own predestined glory ; and, being raised 
bodily into immortality, and placed beside her Son, in all " the 
sacred splendor of beneficence," she came to be regarded as our 
intercessor before that divine Son, who could refuse nothing 
to his Mother. The relative position of the Mother and Son, 
being spiritual and indestructible, was continued in heaven ; 
and thus step by step the woman was transmuted into the 

But, like her Son, Mary had walked in human form upon 
earth, and in form must have resembled her Son ; for, as it is 
argued, Christ had no earthly father, therefore could only have 
derived his human lineaments from his mother. All the old 
legends assume that the resemblance between the Son and the 
Mother must have been perfect. 

These growing thoughts my mother soon perceiving 
By words at times cast forth, inly rejoiced, 
And said to me apart, " High are thy thoughts, 
O Son ; but nourish them, and let them soar 
To what height sacred virtue and true worth 
Can raise them, though above example high." 

[Paradise Rtyained, book i. 227-1 


Dante alludes to this belief : — 

Riguarda ormai nella faccia ch' a Christo 
Piii s' assomiglia. 

Now raise thy view 
Unto the visage most resembling Christ. 

The accepted type of the head of Christ was to be taken as 
a model, in its mild, intellectual majesty, for that of the Virgin- 
mother, as far as difference of sex would allow. 

In the ecclesiastical history of Nicephorus Callixtus he has 
inserted a description of the person of Mary, which he declares 
to have been given by Epiphanius, who lived in the fourth 
century, and by him derived from a more ancient source. It 
must be confessed, that the type of person here assigned to the 
Virgin is more energetic for a woman than that which has been 
assigned to our Saviour as a man. " She was of middle stature ; 
her face oval ; her eyes brilliant, and of an olive tint ; her 
eyebrows arched and black ; her hair was of a pale brown ; 
her complexion fair as wheat. She spoke little, but she spoke 
freely and affably ; she was not troubled in her speech, but 
grave, courteous, tranquil. Her dress was without ornament, 
and in her deportment was nothing lax or feeble." To this 
ancient description of her person and manners, we are to add 
the scriptural and popular portrait of her mind ; the gentleness, 
the purity, the intellect, power, and fortitude ; the gifts of the 
poetess and prophetess ; the humility in which she exceeded all 
womankind. Lastly, we are to engraft on these personal and 
moral qualities the theological attributes which the Church, 
from early times, had assigned to her, the supernatural endow- 
ments which lifted her above angels and men : all these were 
to be combined into one glorious type of perfection. Where 
shall we seek this highest, holiest impersonation ? Where has 
it been attained, or even approached ? Not, certainly, in the 
mere woman, nor yet in the mere idol ; not in those lovely crea- 
tions which awaken a sympathetic throb of tenderness ; nor in 
those stern, motionless types which embody a dogma ; not in 
the classic features of marble goddessess, borrowed as models ; 
nor in the painted images which stare upon us from tawdry 
altars in flaxen wigs and embroidered petticoats. But where ? 
Of course we each form to ourselves some notion of what wo 
require ; and these requirements will be as diverse as our 
natures and our habits of thought. For myself, I have seen 


my own ideal once, and only once, attained : there where 
Raphael — inspired if ever a painter was inspired — projected 
on the space before him that wonderful creation which wo 
styled the Madonna di San Sisto (Dresden Gallery) ; for 
there she stands — the transfigured woman, at once completely 
human and completely divine, an abstraction of power, purity, 
and love, poised on the empurpled air, and requiring no other 
support; looking out, with her melancholy, loving mouth, her 
slightly dilated, sibylline eyes, quite through the universe, to 
the end and consummation of all tilings ; sad, as if she be- 
held afar off the visionary sword that was to reach her heart 
through Him now resting as enthroned on that heart ; yet 
already exalted through the homage of the redeemed genera- 
tions who were to salute her as Blessed. Six times have I 
visited the city made glorious by the possession of this treas- 
ure, and as often, when again at a distance, with recollections 
disturbed by feeble copies and prints, I have begun to think, 
" Is it so indeed ? is she indeed so divine ? or does not rather 
the imagination encircle her with a halo of religion and poetry, 
and lend a grace which is not really there ; " and as often, 
when returned, I have stood before it and confessed that there 
is more in that form and face than I had ever yet conceived. 
I cannot here talk the language of critics, and speak of this 
picture merely as a picture, for to me it was a revelation. In 
the same gallery is the lovely Madonna of the Meyer family ; 
inexpressibly touching and perfect in its way, but conveying 
only one of the attributes of Mary, her benign pity ; while the 
Madonna di San Sisto is an abstract of all. 1 

The poets are ever the best commentators on the painters. 1 
have already given from the great " singers of high poems " in 
the fourteenth century their exposition of the theological type of 
the Madonna. Xow, in some striking passages of our modern 
poets we may find a most beautiful commentary on what I 
have termed the moral type. 

The first is from Wordsworth, and may be recited before 
the Madonna di San Sisto : — 

1 Expression is the great and characteristic excellence of Raphael, more 
especially in his Madonnas. It is precisely this which all copies and engravings 
render at best most imperfectly: and in point of expression the most successful 
engraving of the Madonna di San Sisto is certainly that of Steiqle. 


Mother! whose virgin bosom was uncrost 
With the least shade of thought to sin allied! 
Woman ! above all women glorified ; 
Our tainted nature's solitary boast ; 
Purer than foam on central ocean tost; 
Brighter than eastern skies at daybreak strewn 
With fancied roses, than the unblemish'd moon 
Before her wane begins on heaven's blue coast, 
Thy Image falls to earth. Yet some I ween, 
Not unforgiven, the suppliant knee might bend, 
As to a visible Power, in which did blend 
All that was mix'd and reconcil'd in thee, 
Of mother's love with maiden purity, 
Of high with low, celestial with terrene. 

The next, from Shelley, reads like a hymn in honor of the 
Immaculate Conception : — 

Seraph of Heaven ! too gentle to be human, 

Veiling beneath that radiant form of woman 

All that is insupportable in thee 

Of light, and love, and immortality ! 

Sweet Benediction in the eternal curse! 

Veil'd Glory of this lampless Universe ! 

Thou Moon beyond the clouds ! Thou living Form 

Among the Dead! Thou Star above the storm ! 

Thou Wonder, and thou Beauty, and thou Terror ! 

Thou Harmony of Nature's Art! Thou Mirror 

In whom, as in the splendor of the Sun, 

All shapes look glorious which thou gazest on ! 

See where she stands ! a mortal shape endued 
With love, and life, and light, and deity; 
The motion which may change but cannot die ; 
An image of some bright eternity; 
A shadow of some golden dream ; a splendor 
Leaving the third sphere pilotless. 

I do not know whether intentionally or not, but we have here 
assembled some of the favorite symbols of the Virgin — the 
moon, the star, the " terribilis ut castrorum acies " (Cant. vi. 
10), and the mirror. 

The third is a passage from Robert Browning, which appears 
to me to sum up the moral ideal : — 

There is a vision in the heart of each, 

Of justice, mercy, wisdom, tenderness 

To wrong and pain, and knowledge of their cure; 

And these embodied in a woman's form 

That best transmits them pure as first received 

From God above her to mankind below! 

[To this list should be added Rossetti's beautiful Ave.] 


II. Symbols and Attributes of the Vieqim 

That which the genius of the greatest of painters only once 
expressed, we must not look to find in his predecessors, who 
saw only partial glimpses of the union of the divine and 
human in the feminine form; still less in his degenerate suc- 
cessors, who never beheld it at all. 

The difficulty of fully expressing this complex ideal, and 
the allegorical spirit of the time, first suggested the expedient 
of placing round the figure of the glorified Virgin certain acces- 
sory symbols, which should assist the artist to express, and the 
observer to comprehend, what seemed beyond the power of Art 
to portray, — a language of metaphor then understood, and which 
we also must understand if we would seize the complete theo- 
logical idea intended to be conveyed. 

I shall begin with those symbols which are borrowed from 
the Litanies of the Virgin, and from certain texts of the Can- 
ticles, in all ages of the Church applied to her : symbols 
which, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, frequently 
accompany those representations which set forth her Glorifica- 
tion or Predestination ; and, in the seventeenth, are introduced 
into the " Immaculate Conception." 

1. The Sun and the Moon. "Electa ut Sol, pulchra ut 
Luna," is one of the texts of the Canticles applied to Mary ; 
and also in a passage of the Revelation, " A woman clothed 
with the sun, having the moon under her feet, and on her 
head a crown of twelve stars." Hence the radiance of the sun 
above her head, and the crescent moon beneath her feet. From 
inevitable association the crescent moon suggests the idea of 
the perpetual chastity ; but in this sense it would be a pagan 
rather than a Christian attribute. 

2. The Star. This attribute, often embroidered in front 
of the veil of the Virgin, or on the right shoulder of her blue 
mantle, has become almost as a badge from which several well- 
known pictures derive their title, " La Madonna della Stella." 
It is, in the first place, an attribute alluding to the most beauti- 
ful and expressive of her many titles: "Stella Maris" Star 
of the Sea, 1 which is one interpretation of her Jewish name, 

1 Ave Maris Stella 
Dei Mater Alma ! etc. 


Miriam ; but she is also " Stella Jacobi" the Star of Jacob ; 
" Stella Matutina" the Morning Star ; " Stella noil Er- 
ratica" the Fixed Star. When, instead of the single star on 
her veil or mantle, she has the crown of twelve stars, the 
allusion is to the text of the Apocalypse already quoted, and 
the number of stars is in allusion to the number of the 
Apostles. 1 

3. The Lily. " 7" am the rose of Sharon, and the lily 
of the valleys " (Cant. ii. 1, 2). As the general emblem of 
purity, the lily is introduced into the Annunciation, where it 
ought to be without stamens : and in the enthroned Madonnas 
it is frequently placed in the hands of attendant angels, more 
particularly in the Florentine Madonnas ; the lily, as the em- 
blem of their patroness, being chosen by the citizens as the 
device of the city. For the same reason it became that of 
the French monarchy. Thorns are sometimes interlaced with 
the lily, to express the " Lilium inter Spinas " (Cant. ii. 2). 

4. The Rose. She is the rose of Sharon, as well as the 
lily of the valley ; and as an emblem of love and beauty, the 
rose is especially dedicated to her. The plantation or garden 
of roses 2 is often introduced ; sometimes it forms the back- 
ground of the picture. There is a most beautiful example in 
a Madonna by Cesare da Sesto (Brera, Milan) ; and another, 
" the Madonna of the Rose Bush," by Martin Schoen. (Cathe- 
dral, Colmar.) 

5. The Inclosed Garden (Hortus conclusus) is an image 
borrowed, like many others, from the Song of Solomon 
(Cant. iv. 12). I have seen this inclosed garden very signifi- 
cantly placed in the background of the Annunciation, and in 
pictures of the Immaculate Conception. Sometimes the in- 
closure is formed of a treillage or hedge of roses, as in a beau- 
tiful Virgin by Francia. 3 (Munich Gallery.) Sometimes it is 
merely formed of stakes or palisades, as in some of the prints 
by Albert Diirer. 

The Well always full ; the Fountain forever sealed ; 
the Tower of David ; the Temple of Solomon : the City of 

1 "In capite, inquit, ejus corona stellarum duodecim ; quidni coronent sidera 
quam sol vestit? " St. Bernard. 

2 Quasi plantatio rosae in Jericho. 

3 Another by Antonio da Negroponte in the San Francesco della Vigna at 
Venice, is also an instance of this significant background. [Luini's Madonna 
in the Brera is still another instance.] 


David (Cirifns sancta) (Cant. iv. 1, 12, 15) ; all these are 
attributes borrowed from the Canticles, and are introduced 
into pictures and stained glass. 

6. The PORTA ClAUSA, the Closed Gate, is another meta- 
phor, taken from the prophecy of Kzekiel (xliv. 2). 

7. The ClLDAR of Lebanon (Cednts exaltata, " exalted as 
a cedar in Lebanon "), because of its height, its incorruptible 
substance, its perfume, and the healing virtues attributed to it 
in the East, expresses the greatness, the beauty, the goodness 
of Mary. 

The victorious Palm, the Plantain " far spreading," and the 
Cypress pointing to heaven, are also emblems of the Virgin. 

The Olive, as a sign of peace, hope, and abundance, is also 
a fitting emblem of the graces of Mary. 1 

8. The Stem of Jesse (Is. xi. 1), figured as a green branch 
entwined with flowers, is also very significant. 

9. The Mirror (Sjjecula sine macula) is a metaphor bor- 
rowed from the Book of Wisdom (vii. 25). We meet with it 
in some of the late pictures of the Immaculate Conception. 

10. The Sealed Book is also a symbol often placed in 
the hands of the Virgin in a mystical Annunciation, and 
sufficiently significant. The allusion is to the text, " In that 
book were all my members written ; " and also to the text in 
Isaiah (xxix. 11, 12), in which he describes the vision of the 
book that was sealed, and could be read neither by the learned 
nor the unlearned. 

11. " The Bush which burned and was not consumed " is 
introduced, with a mystical significance, into an Annunciation 
by Titian. 

Besides these symbols, which have a mystic and sacred 
significance, and are applicable to the Virgin only, certain 
attributes and accessories are introduced into pictures of the 
Madonna and Child, which are capable of a more general in- 

1. The Globe, as the emblem of sovereignty, was very 
early placed in the hand of the divine Child. When the 
globe is under the feet of the Madonna and encircled by a ser- 
pent, as in some later pictures, it figures our Redemption ; her 
triumph over a fallen world — fallen through sin. 

1 Quasi oliva speciosa in campis. 


2. The Serpent is the general emblem of Sin or Satan ; 
but under the feet of the Virgin it has a peculiar significance. 
She has generally her foot on the head of the reptile. " She 
shall bruise thy head," as it is interpreted in the Roman 
Catholic Church. 1 

3. The Apple, which of all the attributes is the most com- 
mon, signifies the fall of man, which made Redemption neces- 
sary. It is sometimes placed in the hands of the Child ; but 
when in the hand of the Mother, she is then designated as the 
second Eve. 2 

4. The Pomegranate, with the seeds displayed, was the 
ancient emblem of hope, and more particularly of religious 
hope. It is often placed in the hands of the Child, who 
sometimes presents it to his Mother. 

Other fruits and flowers, always beautiful accessories, are 
frequently introduced, according to the taste of the artist. 
But fruits in a general sense signified " the fruits of the Spirit 
— joy, peace, love ; M and flowers were consecrated to the 
Virgin : hence we yet see them placed before her as offerings. 

5. Ears of Wheat in the hand of the Infant (as in a 
lovely little Madonna by Ludovico Caracci, Lansdowne Col- 
lection) figured the bread in the Eucharist, and Grapes the 
wine. There was another exactly similar in the collection of 
Mr. Rogers. 

6. The Book. In the hand of the Infant Christ, the 
book is the Gospel in a general sense, or it is the Book of 
Wisdom. In the hand of the Madonna, it may have one of 
two meanings. When open, or when she has her finger be- 
tween the leaves, or when the Child is turning over the pages, 
then it is the Book of Wisdom, and is always supposed to be 
open at the seventh chapter. When the book is clasped or 
sealed, it is a mystical symbol of the Virgin herself, as I have 
already explained. 

7. The Dove, as the received emblem of the Holy Spirit, 
is properly placed above, as hovering over the Virgin. There 
is an exception to this rule in a very interesting picture in the 
Louvre, where the Holy Dove (with the nimbus) is placed at 
the feet of the Child. 3 This is so unusual, and so contrary to 

1 Ipsa conteret caput tui. 

2 Mors per Evam ; vita per Mariam. 

3 The Virgin has the air of a gypsy. 


all the received proprieties of religious Art, that I think the 
nimbus may have been added afterwards. 

The seven doves round the head of the Virgin signify the 
seven gifts of the Spirit. These characterize her as personified 
Wisdom — the Muter SapientUB, 

Doves placed near Mary when she is reading, or at work in 
the temple, are expressive of her gentleness and tenderness. 

8. Birds. The bird in the Egyptian hieroglyphics signi- 
fied the soul of man. In the very ancient pictures there can 
be no doubt, I think, that the bird in the hand of Christ 
figured the soul, or the spiritual as opposed to the material. 
But, in the later pictures, the original meaning being lost, 
birds became mere ornamental accessories, or playthings. 
Sometimes it is a parrot from the East, sometimes a partridge 
(the partridge is frequently in the Venetian pictures) : some- 
times a goldfinch, as in Raphael's Madonna del Cardellino. 
[Pitti, Florence.] In a Madonna by Guercino, the Mother 
holds a bird perched on her hand, and the Child, with a most 
naive infantine expression, shrinks back from it. It was in 
the collection of Mr. Rogers. [Sold in 1856. Vide Bedford's 
Sales, vol. ii. p. 234.] In a picture by Baroccio, he holds it up 
before a cat (National Gallery, London) : so completely were 
the original symbolism and all the religious proprieties of Art 
at this time set aside. 

Other animals are occasionally introduced. Extremely 
offensive are the apes when admitted into devotional pictures. 
We have associations with the animal as a mockery of the 
human, which render it a very disagreeable accessory. It 
appears that, in the sixteenth century, it became the fashion 
to keep apes as pets, and every reader of Vasari will remember 
the frequent mention of these animals as pets and favorites 
of the artists. Thus only can I account for the introduction of 
the ape, particularly in the Ferrarese pictures. Bassano's dog, 
Baroccio's cat, are often introduced. In a famous picture by 
Titian, " La Vierge au Lapin " (Louvre), we have the rabbit. 
The introduction of these and other animals marks the decline 
of religious Art. 

Certain women of the Old Testament are regarded as espe- 
cial types of the Virgin. 

Eve. Mary is regarded as the second Eve, because through 
her came the promised Redemption. She bruised the head 


of the Serpent, The Tree of Life, the Fall, or Eve holding 
the Apple, are constantly introduced allusively in the Madonna 
pictures, as ornaments of her throne, or on the predella of an 
altar-piece representing the Annunciation, the Nativity, or the 

Rachel figures as the ideal of contemplative life. 

Ruth, as the ancestress of David. 

Abishag, as " the virgin who was brought to the king." 
(1 Kings i). 

Bathsheba, because she sat upon a throne on the right 
hand of her son. 

Judith and Esther, as having redeemed their people, and 
brought deliverance to Israel. It is because of their typical 
character, as emblems of the Virgin, that these Jewish hero- 
ines so often figure in the religious pictures. 

In his Paradiso (c. xxxii.), Dante represents Eve, Rachel, 
Sara, Ruth, Judith, as seated at the feet of the Virgin Mary, 
beneath her throne in heaven ; and next to Rachel, by a refine- 
ment of spiritual and. poetical gallantry, he has placed his 

In the beautiful frescoes of the church of St. Apollinaris 
at Remagen, these Hebrew women stand together in a group 
below the throne of the Virgin. 

Of the Prophets and the Sibyls who attend on Christ in his 
character of the Messiah or Redeemer, I shall have much to 
say when describing the artistic treatment of the history and 
character of our Lord. Those of the Prophets who are sup- 
posed to refer more particularly to the Incarnation properly 
attend on the Virgin and Child ; but in the ancient altar-pieces 
they are not placed within the same frame, nor are they 
grouped immediately round her throne, but form the outer ac- 
cessories, or are treated separately as symbolical. 

First, Moses, because he beheld the burning bush, " which 
burned and was not consumed." He is generally in the act 
of removing his sandals. 

Aaron, because his rod blossomed miraculously. 

Gideox, on whose fleece descended the dew of heaven, 
while all was dry around. 

Daniel, who beheld the stone which was cut out without 
hands, and became a great mountain, filling the earth (ch. ii 


David, as prophet and ancestor. "Listen, O daughter, 
and incline thine ear." 

Isaiah. " Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a 

Kxkkiel. "This gate shall be shut " (ch. xliv. 2). 

Certain of these personages, Moses, Aaron, Gideon, Daniel, 
Ezekiel, are not merely accessories and attendant figures, but 
in a manner attributes, as expressing the character of the Vir- 
gin. Thus, in many instances, we find the prophetical per- 
sonages altogether omitted, and we have simply the attribute 
figuring the prophecy itself, the burning bush, the rod, the 
dewy fleece, etc. 

The Sibyls are sometimes introduced alternately with the 
Prophets. In general, if there be only two, they are the 
Tiburtina, who showed the vision to Augustus, and the Cumean 
Sibyl, who foretold the birth of our Saviour. The Sibyls 
were much the fashion in the classic times of the sixteenth 
century ; Michael Angelo and Raphael have left us consum- 
mate examples. 

But I must repeat that the full consideration of the Pro- 
phets and Sibyls as accessories belongs to another department 
of sacred Art, and they will find their place there. 

The Evangelists frequently, and sometimes one or more of 
the Twelve Apostles, appear as accessories which assist the 
theological conception. When other figures are introduced, 
they are generally either the protecting saints of the country 
or locality, or the Saints of the Religious Order to whom the 
edifice belongs ; or, where the picture or window is an ex-voto, 
we find the patron saints of the confraternity, or of the donor 
or votary who has dedicated it. 

Angels seated at the feet of the Madonna and playing on 
musical instruments are most lovely and appropriate accesso- 
ries, for the choral angels are always around her in heaven, and 
on earth she is the especial patroness of music and minstrelsy. 
Her delegate Cecilia patronized sacred music ; but all music 
and musicians, all minstrels, and all who plied the " gaye 
science," were under the protection of Mary. When the an- 
gels were singing from their music books, and others are ac- 
companying them with lutes and viols, the song is not always 
supposed to be the same. In a Nativity they sing the (ilnrla 
in Excelsis Deo; in a Coronation the Begina Cceli; in an 


enthroned Madonna with votaries, the Salve Regina, Mater 
Misericordia? ! in a pastoral Madonna and Child it may be 
the Alma Mater Redemptoris. 

In all the most ancient devotional effigies (those in the cata- 
combs and the old mosaics) the Virgin appears as a majestic 
woman of mature age. In those subjects taken from her his- 
tory which precede her return from Egypt, and in the Holy 
Families, she should appear as a young maiden from fifteen to 
seventeen years old. 

In the subjects taken from her history which follow the 
baptism of our Lord, she should appear as a matron between 
forty and fifty, but still of a sweet and gracious aspect. When 
Michael Angelo was reproached with representing his Mater 
Dolorosa much too young, he replied that the perfect virtue 
and serenity of the character of Mary would have preserved 
her beauty and youthful appearance long beyond the usual 
period. (St. Peter's, Rome.) 

Because some of the Greek pictures and carved images had 
become black through extreme age, it was argued by certain 
devout writers that the Virgin herself must have been of a 
very dark complexion ; and in favor of this idea they quoted 
this text from the Canticles, " I am black, but comely, ye 
daughters of Jerusalem." But others say that her complexion 
had become black only during her sojourn in Egypt. At all 
events, though the blackness of these antique images was sup- 
posed to enhance their sanctity, it has never been imitated in 
the Fine Arts, and it is quite contrary to the description of 
Nicephorus, which is the most ancient authority, and that which 
is followed in the Greek school. 

The proper dress of the Virgin is a close red tunic, with 
long sleeves ; 1 and over this a blue robe or mantle. In the 
early pictures the colors are pale and delicate. Her head 
ought to be veiled. The fathers of the primeval Church, par- 
ticularly Tertullian, attach great importance to the decent veil 
worn by Christian maidens ; and in all the early pictures the 
Virgin is veiled. The enthroned Virgin, unveiled, with long 

1 In a famous Pieta by Raphael, engraved by Marc Antonio, the Virgin, stand- 
ing by the dead form of her Son, has the right arm apparently bare ; in the 
repetition of the subject it is clothed with a full sleeve, the impropriety being 
corrected. The first is, however, the most perfect and most precious as a work 
of Art. Bartsch, Le Peintre Graveur, vol. xiv. p. 40, Nos. 34, 35. 


tresses falling down on either Bide, was an innovation intro- 
duced about the end of the fifteenth century ; commencing, I 
think, with the .Milanese, ami thence adopted in the German 
schools and those of Northern Italy. The German Madonnas 
of Albert Dlirer's time have often magnificent and luxuriant 
hair, curling in ringlets, or descending to the waist in rich 
waves, and always fair. Dark-haired Madonnas appear first in 
the Spanish and later Italian schools. 

In the historical pictures, her dress is very simple ; but in 
those devotional figures which represent her as Queen of 
Heaven, she wears a splendid crown, sometimes of jewels in- 
terwoven with lilies and roses. The crown is often the sover- 
eign crown of the country in which the picture is placed : 
thus, in the Papal States, she often wears the triple tiara ; in 
Austria, the imperial diadem. Her blue tunic is richly em- 
broidered with gold and gems, or lined with ermine or stuff of 
various colors, in accordance with a text of Scripture : " The 
King's daughter is all glorious within ; her clothing is of 
wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the King in rai- 
ment of needlework " (Ps. xlv. 13, 14). In the Immaculate 
Conception, and in the Assumption, her tunic should be plain 
white, or white spangled with golden stars. In the subjects 
relating to the Passion, and after the Crucifixion, the dress 
of the Virgin should be violet or gray. These proprieties, 
however, are not always attended to. 

In the early pictures which represent her as nursing the Di- 
vine Infant (the subject called the " Virgine Lattante ") the 
utmost care is taken to veil the bust as much as possible. In 
the Spanish school the most vigilant censorship was exercised 
over all sacred pictures, and, with regard to the figures of the 
Virgin, the utmost decorum was required. " What," says 
Pacheco, " can be more foreign to the respect which we owe to 
Our Lady the Virgin, than to paint her sitting down with one 
of her knees placed over the other, and often with her sacred 
feet uncovered and naked ? Let thanks be given to the Holy 
Inquisition, which commands that this liberty should be cor- 
rected." For this reason, perhaps, we seldom see the feet of 
the Virgin in Spanish pictures, or in any of the old pictures 
till the seventeenth century. " Tandis que Dieu est toujours 
montrd pieds nus, lui qui est descendu B tent- et a pris notre 
hunianite, Marie au contraire est containment representor Les 


pieds perdus dans les plis trainants, nombreux et ldgers, de sa 
robe virginale ; elle qui est e'leve'e au-dessus de la terre et rap- 
proche'e de Dieu par sa purete. Dieu montre par ses pieds 
rms qu'il a pris le corps de Fhomme ; Marie fait comprendre 
en les cachant qu'elle participe de la spiritualite de Dieu." 
[While God is always shown barefooted, He who descended to 
earth and took on our humanity, Mary, on the contrary, is 
constantly represented with her feet lost in the trailing folds, 
light and ample, of her virgin robe, she who is lifted above 
the earth and brought close to God through her purity. God 
shows by his bare feet that he has taken the body of man ; 
Mary, by hiding hers, makes it known that she shares the 
spirituality of God.] Carducho speaks more particularly on 
the impropriety of painting the Virgin unshod, " since it is 
manifest that our Lady was in the habit of wearing shoes, as 
is proved by the much venerated relic of one of them from 
her divine feet at Burgos." 

The child in her arms is always, in the Greek and early 
pictures, clothed in a little tunic, generally white. In the 
fifteenth century he first appears partly, and then wholly, un- 
draped. Joseph, as the earthly sposo, wears the saffron-colored 
mantle over a gray tunic. In the later schools of Art these 
significant colors are often varied, and sometimes wholly dis- 
pensed with. 

III. Devotional and Historical Kepresentations. 

In this volume, as in the former ones, I have adhered to the 
distinction between the devotional and the historical represen- 

I class as devotional all those which express a dogma merely ; 
all the enthroned Madonnas, alone or surrounded by significant 
accessories or attendant saints ; all the Mystical Coronations 
and Immaculate Conceptions ; all the Holy Families with 
saints, and those completely ideal and votive groups in which 
the appeal is made to the faith and piety of the observer. I 
shall give the characteristic details, in particular instances, 
farther on. 

The altar-pieces in a Roman Catholic church are always 
either strictly devotional, subjects, or, it may be, historical sub- 
jects (such as the Nativity) treated in a devotional sense. They 



are sometimes in several pieces or compartments. A diptych 
is an altar-piece composed of two divisions or leaves, which are 
united by hinges, and close like ■ 
book. Portable altar-pieces of a 
small size are generally in this form ; 
and among the most valuable and 
curious remains of early religious 
Art are the Greek and Byzantine 
diptyehs, sometimes painted, some- 
times carved in ivory. 1 A trip- 
tych is an altar-piece in three parts ; the two outer divisions or 
wings often closing as shutters over the central compartment, 
— as in form below. On the outside of the shutters or doors 
the Annunciation was generally painted, as the mystery which 
opened the gates of salvation ; occasionally, also, the portraits 
of the votaries or donors. 

Complete examples of devotional representation occur in the 
complex and elaborate altar-pieces and windows of stained glass, 
which often comprehend a very significant scheme of theology. 2 
I give here plans of two of these old altar-pieces, which will 
assist the reader in elucidating the meaning of others. 

The first is the altar-piece 
in the Rinuccini chapel in 
the church of the Santa 
Croce of Florence. It is ne- 
cessary to premise that the 
chapel was founded in honor 
of the Virgin and Mary Mag- 
dalene, while the church is 
dedicated to the Holy Cross, 
and belongs to the Francis- 
The compartments are separated by wood-work most richly 
carved and gilt in the Gothic style, with twisted columns, 
pinnacles, and scrolls. The subjects are thus distributed. 

1 Among (he "Casts from Ancient Ivory Carvings," published by the Arun- 
del Society, will be found some interesting and illustrative examples, particu- 
larly Class III. Diptych b, Class Vlf. Diptych e and Triptych/ (lass IX 
Triptych k. 

2 Still more important examples occur in the porches and exterior decoration 
of the old cathedrals, French and English, which have escaped mutilation. 



A. The Virgin and Child enthroned. She has the sun on 
her breast, the moon under her feet, the twelve stars over her 
head, and is attended by angels bearing the attributes of the 
cardinal virtues. B. St. John the Baptist. C. St. Francis. 














D. St. John Evangelist. E. Mary Magdalene. 1. The Cruci- 
fixion, with the Virgin and St. John. 2, 3, 4, 5. The four 
Evangelists with their books : half length. 6, 7. St. Peter 
and St. Paul: half length. 8, 9, 10, 11. St. Thomas, St. 
Philip, St. James, and St. Andrew : half length. P P. The 
Predella. 12. The Nativity and Adoration of Magi. 13. St. 
Francis receives the Stigmata. 14. Baptism of Christ. 15. 
The Vision of St. John in Patmos. 16. Mary Magdalene borne 
Up by angels. Between the altar-piece and the predella runs 
the inscription in Gothic letters, Ave Dulcissima Virgo 
Maria, succurre nobis Mater Pia, mccclxxviii. 

The second example is sketched from an altar-piece painted 
for the suppressed convent of Santa Chiara, at Venice. It is 
six feet high, and eight feet wide, and the ornamental carving 
in which the subjects are inclosed is particularly splendid and 

A. The Coronation of the Virgin, treated as a religious 
mystery, with choral angels. B. The Nativity of our Lord. 



C. The Baptism. D. The Last Supper. E. The Betrayal of 
Christ. F. The Procession to Calvary, in which the Virgin 

is rudely pushed aside by the soldiers. G. The Crucifixion, 
as an event ; John sustains the Virgin at the foot of the cross. 
H. The Resurrection and the Noli me tangere. I. Ascension. 
1. Half-figure of Christ, with the hand extended in benedic- 
tion ; in the other hand the Gospel. 2. David. 3. Isaiah. 4, 
5, 6, 7. The four Evangelists standing. 8, 9, 11, 12. Scenes 

from the Life of St. Francis and St. Clara. 10. The Descent 
of the Holy Ghost. 13. The Last Judgment. 

It is to be regretted that so many of these altar-pieces have 
been broken up, and the detached parts sold as separate pic- 
tures ; so that we may find one compartment of an altar in a 
church at Rome, and another hanging in a drawing-room in 
London ; the upper part at Ghent, the lower half at Paris ; one 
wing at Berlin, another at Florence. But where they exist 
as a whole, how solemn, significant, and instructive the arrange- 
ment! It may be read as we read a poem. Compare these 
with the groups round the enthroned Virgin in the later altar- 
pieces, where the saints elbow each other in attitudes, where 
mortal men sit with unseemly familiarity close to personages 
recognized as divine. As I have remarked farther on, it is 
one of the most interesting speculations connected with the 


study of Art, to trace this decline from reverence to irrever- 
ence, from the most rigid formula to the most fantastic caprice. 
The gradual disappearance of the personages of the Old Testa- 
ment, the increasing importance given to the family of the 
Blessed Virgin, the multiplication of legendary subjects, and 
ail the variety of adventitious, unmeaning, or merely orna- 
mental accessories, strike us just in proportion as a learned 
theology replaced the unreflecting, undoubting piety of an 
earlier age. 

The historical subjects comprise the events from the Life of 
the Virgin, when treated in a dramatic form ; and all those 
groups which exhibit her in her merely domestic relations, 
occupied by cares for her Divine Child, and surrounded by her 
parents and kindred, subjects which assume a pastoral and 
poetical rather than an historical form. 

All these may be divided into Scriptural and Legendary 
representations. The Scriptural scenes in which the Virgin 
Mary is a chief or important personage are the Annunciation, 
the Visitation, the Nativity, the Purification, the Adoration of 
the Magi, the Flight into Egypt, the Marriage at Cana, the 
Procession to Calvary, the Crucifixion (as related by St. John), 
and the Descent of the Holy Ghost. The Traditional and 
Legendary scenes are those taken from the apocryphal Scrip- 
tures, some of which have existed from the third century. 
The Legend of Joachim and Anna, the parents of the Virgin, 
with the account of her early life, and her Marriage with 
Joseph, down to the Massacre of the Innocents, are taken from 
the Gospel of Mary and the Protevangelion. The scenes of 
the Flight into Egypt, the Repose on the Journey, and the 
Sojourn of the Holy Family at Hieropolis or Matarea, are 
taken from the Gospel of Infancy. The various scenes attend- 
ing the Death and Assumption of the Virgin are derived from 
a Greek legendary poem, once attributed to St. John the 
Evangelist, but the work, as it is supposed, of a certain Greek, 
named Meliton, who lived in the ninth century, and who has 
merely dressed up in a more fanciful form ancient traditions 
of the Church. Many of these historical scenes have been 
treated in a devotional style, expressing not the action, but 
the event, taken in the light of a religious mystery ; a distinc- 
tion which I have fully explained in the following pages. 



where I have given in detail the legends on which theee scenes 
are founded, and the religious significance conveyed by the 


A complete series of the History of the Virgin begins with 
the rejection of her fat her Joachim from the temple, and ends 

with the Assumption and Coronation, including most of the 
events in the History of our Lord (as, for example, the series 
painted by Giotto, in the chapel of the Arena, at Padua) ; but 
there are many instances in which certain important events 
relating to the Virgin only, as the principal person, are treated 
as a devotional series : and such are generally found in the 
chapels and oratories especially dedicated to her. A beautiful 
instance is that of the Death of the Virgin, treated in a succes- 
sion of scenes, as an event apart, and painted by Taddeo 
Bartolo, in the chapel of the Palazzo Pubblico, at Siena. This 
small chapel was dedicated to the Virgin soon after the terri- 
ble plague of 1348 had ceased, as it was believed, by her inter- 
cession ; so that this municipal chapel was at once an expression 

of thanksgiving and a memorial of death, of suffering, of be- 
reavement, and of hope in the resurrection. The frescoes 
cover one w r all of the chapel, and are thus arranged in four 

1. Mary is reclining in her last sickness, and around her 
the Apostles, who, according to the beautiful legend, were 
miraculously assembled to witness her departure. To express 
this, one of them is floating in as if borne on the air. St. 
John kneels at her feet, and she takes, with an expression ex- 
quisitely tender and maternal, his two hands in hers. This 
action is peculiar to the Siena school. 1 

1 On each side of the principal door of the cathedral at Siena, which is dedi- 
cated to " Beata Vergine Assunta,'' and just within the entrance, is a niagniii- 


2. She lies extended on her conch, surrounded by the weep- 
ing Apostles, and Christ behind receives the parting soul — 
the usual representation, but treated with the utmost senti- 

3. She is borne to the grave by the Apostles ; in the back- 
ground, the walls of the city of Jerusalem. Here the Greek 
legend of St. Michael protecting her remains from the sacrile- 
gious Jew is omitted, and a peculiar sentiment of solemnity 
pervades the whole scene. 

4. The resurrection of the Virgin, when she rises from the 
tomb sustained by hovering angels, and is received by Christ. 

When I first saw these beautiful frescoes, in 1847, they 
were in a very ruined state; they have since been restored in 
a very good style, and with a reverent attention to the details 
and expression. 

In general, however, the cycle commences either with the 
legend of Joachim and Anna, or with the Nativity of the 
Virgin, and ends with the Assumption and Coronation. A' 
most interesting early example is the series painted in fresco 
by Taddeo Gaddi, in the Baroncelli chapel at Florence. The 
subjects are thus arranged on two walls. The first on the 
right hand, and the second opposite to us as we enter. 

cent pilaster, of white marble, completely covered from the base to the capital 
with the most luxurious carving, arabesques, foliage, etc., in an admirable and 
finished style. On the bases of these two pilasters are subjects from the Life 
of the Virgin, three on each side, and thus arranged, each subject on one side 
having its pendant on the other. 



1. The Meeting of Joachim and Anna. 2. The Nativity of Mary. 3. Her 
sickness and last farewell to the Apostles ; bending towards St. John, she takes 
his hand in hers with the same tender expression as in the fresco by Taddeo 
Bartolo. 4. She lies dead on her couch. 5. The Assumption. 6. The Coro- 

The figures are about a foot in height, delicately carved, full of that sentiment 
which is especially Sienese, and treated with a truly sculptural simplicity. 



Wall 1 

Wall 2 

/ 1 

2 \ 





/ I 

| \ 








1. Joachim is rejected from the Temple. 

2. He is consoled by the Angel. 

3. The meeting of Joachim and Anna. 

4. The Birth of the Virgin. 

5. The Presentation of the Virgin. She is here a child of 
about five years old ; and having ascended five steps (of the 
fifteen), she turns as if to bid farewell to her parents and 
companions, who stand below ; while on the summit the High 
Priest, Anna the prophetess, and the maidens of the Temple 
come forward to receive her. 

6. The Marriage to Joseph, and the rage and disappoint- 
ment of the other suitors. 

The second wall is divided by a large window of the richest 
stained glass, on each side of which the subjects are arranged. 

7. The Annunciation. This is peculiar. Mary, not throned 
or standing, but seated on the ground, with her hands clasped, 
and an expression beautiful for devotion and humility, looks 
upward to the descending angel. 

8. The meeting of Mary and Elizabeth. 

9. The Annunciation to the Shepherds. 

10. The Nativity. 

11. The Wise Men heboid the Star in the form of a Child. 

12. They approach to worship. Under the window is the 
altar (f) no longer used as such ; and behind it a small but 



beautiful triptych of the Coronation of the Virgin, by Giotto, 
containing at least a hundred heads of saints, angels, etc. ; 
and on the wall opposite to No. 1 is the large fresco of the 
Assumption, by Mainardi, in which St. Thomas receives the 
girdle, the other apostles being omitted. This is of much later 
date, being painted about 1495. 

The series of five subjects in the Kinuccini chapel (in the 
sacristy of the same church) has been generally attributed to 
Taddeo Gaddi, but I agree with those who give it to a different 
painter of the same period. 1 

The subjects are thus arranged : 1. The Rejection of 
Joachim, which fills the whole arch at the 
top, and is rather peculiarly treated. On 
the right of the altar («) advances a com- 
pany of grave-looking elders, each with 
his offering. On the left (b), a procession 

a b \ 

2 3 

4 5 

of the matrons and widow 

who had 

been fruitful in Israel," each with her 
lamb. In the centre, Joachim, with his 
lamb in his arms and an affrighted look, 
is hurrying down the steps. 2. The 
Lamentation of Joachim on the Moun- 
tain, and the Meeting of Joachim and 
Anna. 3. The Birth of the Virgin. 4. 
The Presentation in the Temple. 5. The 
Sposalizio of the Virgin, with which the 
series concludes ; every event referring to 
her Divine Son, even the Annunciation, 
being omitted. On comparing these frescoes with those in the 
neighboring chapel of the Baroncelli, 2 the difference in feeling 
will be immediately felt ; but they are very, naive and elegant. 
About a hundred years later than these two examples we 
have the celebrated series painted by Ghirlandajo, in the choir 
of S. Maria Novella at Florence. There are three walls. On 
the principal wall, facing us as we enter, is the window ; and 
around it the Annunciation (as a mystery), then the principal 
saints of the Order to whom the church belongs, — St. Domin- 
ick and St. Peter Martyr, and the protecting saints of Florence. 

1 [These frescoes are now widely conceded by Art critics to be the work of 
Gaddi's favorite pupil, Giovanni da Milano.] 

2 [The Baroncelli chapel is now known as the Cappella Giugni.] 



On the left hand (/. c. the right as we face the bigfa altar) 
is the History of the Virgin; on the opposite side, the History 

of St. John the Baptist. The various cycles relating to St. 

John as patron of Florence will he fully treated in the last 
volume of " Legendary Art ; " 1 at present I shall confine myself 
to the beautiful set of subjects which relate the history of the 
Virgin, and which the engravings of Lasinio 2 have rendered 
well known to the lovers of Art. They cover the whole wall, 
and are thus arranged, beginning from the lowest on the left 

1. Joachim is driven from the temple. 

2. The Birth of the Virgin. I have 
reproduced this beautiful composition, 
with a description, at p. 194. 

3. The Presentation of the Virgin in 
the Temple. 

4. The Marriage of Joseph and Mary. 

5. The Adoration of the Magi. (This 
is very much ruined.) 

6. The Massacre of the Innocents. 
(This also is much ruined.) Vasari says 
it was the finest of all. It is very un- 
usual to make this terrible and pathetic 
scene part of the life of the Virgin. 

7. In the highest and largest compart- 
ment, the Death and Assumption of the 

Nearly contemporary with this fine series is that by Pin- 
turicchio in the church of S. Maria del Popolo, at Rome (in 
the third chapel on the right). It is comprised in five lunettes 
round the ceiling, beginning with the Birth of the Virgin, and 
is remarkable for its elegance. 

About forty years after this series was completed the people 
of Siena, who had always been remarkable for their devotion 
to the Virgin, dedicated to her honor the beautiful little chapel 
called the Oratory of San Bernardino, 3 near the church of San 
Francesco, and belonging to the same ( )rder, the Franciscans. 

1 [The reference is to Mrs. Jameson's projected plan for writing a volume on 
the "Life of our Lord and St. John the Baptist," upon which she was engaged 
at the time of her death.] 

a See the Ancient Florentine Musters. 

% Vide Legends of the Monastic Orders, p. 30L 

5 G 

3 4 

1 2 



This chapel is an exact parallelogram, and the frescoes which 
cover the four walls are thus arranged above the wainscot, 
which rises about eight feet from the ground. 

1. Opposite the door as we enter, the Birth of the Virgin. 
The usual visitor to St. Anna is here a grand female figure, in 
voluminous drapery. The delight and exultation of those who 
minister to the new-born Infant are expressed with the most 
graceful naivete. This beautiful composition should be com- 
pared with those of Ghirlandajo and Andrea del Sarto in the 
Annunziata at Florence ; 1 it yields to neither as a conception, 
and is wholly different. It is the work of a Sienese painter 
little known — Girolamo del Pacchia. 

2. The Presentation in the Temple, by G. A. Razzi. The 
principal scene is placed in the back- 
ground, and the little Madonna as 
she ascends the steps is received 
by the High Priest and Anna the 
prophetess. Her father and mother 
and groups of spectators fill the 
foreground ; here, too, is a very 
noble female figure on the right ; 
but the whole composition is man- 
nered, and wants repose and reli- 
gious feeling. 

3. The Sposalizio, by Beccafumi. 
The ceremony takes place after the 
manner of the Jews, outside the 
Temple. In a mannered, artificial 

4, 5. On one side of the altar, 
the Angel Gabriel floating in — very majestic and angelic ; on 
the other side the Virgin Annunziata, with that attitude and 
expression so characteristic of the Siena school, as if shrinking 
from the apparition. 2 These also are by Girolamo del Pacchia, 
and extremely fine. 

6. The enthroned Virgin and Child, by Beccafumi. The 
Virgin is very fine and majestic; around her throne stand and 




1 ♦ 1 


















1 This series, painted by Andrea and his scholars and companions, Francia- 
6igio and Pontormo, is very remarkable as a work of Art, but presents nothing 
new in regard to the choice and treatment of the subjects. 

2 [Compare Simone Memmi's Annunciation in the Uffizi, Florence.] 


kneel the guardian saints of Siena ami t he Franciscan Order: 
St. Francis, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Bernardino, St. Catherine 
of Siena, St. Ansano, St. John 1>., St. Louis. (St. Catherine, 
as patroness of Siena, takes here the place usually given to 
St. Clara in the Franciscan pictures.) 

7. The Visitation. Very line and rather peculiar ; for here 
Elizabeth bends over Mary as welcoming her, while the other 
inclines her head as accepting hospitality. .By Kazzi. 1 

8. The Death of the Virgin. Fourteen figures, among 
which are four females lamenting, and St. John bearing the 
palm. The attitude and expression of Mary composed in 
death, are very fine ; and Christ, instead of standing, as usual, 
by the couch, with her parting soul in his arms, comes rushing 
down from above with arms outspread to receive it. 

9. The Assumption. Mary, attired all in white, rises ma- 
jestically. The tomb is seen beneath, out of which grow two 
tall lilies amid white roses ; the Apostles surround it, and St. 
Thomas receives the girdle. This is one of the finest works 
of Razzi, and one of the purest in point of sentiment. 

10. The Coronation, covering the whole wall which faces 
the altar, is by Razzi ; it is very peculiar and characteristic. 
The Virgin all in white, and extremely fine, bending grace- 
fully, receives her crown ; the other figures have that vulgarity 
of expression which belonged to the artist, and is often so 
oddly mingled with the sentiment and grandeur of his school 
and time. On the right of the principal group stands St. John 
B. ; on the left, Adam and Eve ; and behind the Virgin, her 
mother, St. Anna, which is quite peculiar, and the only in- 
stance I can remember. 

It appears, therefore, that the Life of the Virgin may, whether 
treated as a devotional or historical series, form a kind of pic- 
tured drama in successive scenes ; sometimes comprising only 
six or eight of the principal events of her individual life, as 
her birth, dedication, marriage, death, and assumption : some- 
times extending to forty or fifty subjects, and combining her 
history with that of her Divine Son. I may now direct the 
attention of the reader to a few other instances remarkable 
for their beauty and celebrity. 

1 [According to Layard's Revision of Kuglcr's Handbook, thu name is cor- 
rectly written Bazzi.] 


Giotto, 1320. In the chapel at Padua styled la Capella 
dell' Arena. One of the finest and most complete examples 
extant, combining the Life of the Virgin with that of her Son. 
This series is of the highest value, a number of scenes and 
situations suggested by the Scriptures being here either ex- 
pressed for the first time, or in a form unknown in the Greek 
school. 1 

Agnolo Gaddi, 1380. The series in the cathedral at Prato, 
These comprise the history of the Holy Girdle. 

Andrea Orcagna, 1373. The beautiful series of bas-reliefs 
on the shrine in Or San Michele, at Florence. 

Niccolo da Modena, 1450. Perhaps the earliest engraved ex- 
ample : very remarkable for the elegance of the motifs and the 
imperfect execution, engraving on copper being then a new art. 

Albert Diirer. The beautiful and well-known set of twenty- 
five woodcuts, published in 1510. A perfect example of the 
German treatment. 2 

Bernardino Luini, 1515. A series of frescoes of the highest 
beauty, painted for the monastery Delia Pace. Unhappily we 
have only the fragments, which are preserved in the Brera. 

The series of bas-reliefs on the outer shrine of the Casa di 
Loretto, by Sansovino, and others of the greatest sculptors of 
the beginning of the sixteenth century. 

The series of bas-reliefs round the choir at Milan : seventeen 

We often find the Seven Joys and the Seven Sorrows of the 
Virgin treated as a series. 

The Seven Joys are the Annunciation, the Visitation, the 
Nativity, the Adoration of the Magi, the Presentation in the 
Temple, Christ found by his Mother, the Assumption, and 

1 Vide Kugler's Handbook, p. 89 et seq. He observes that "the introduction 
of the maid-servant spinning, in the story of St. Anna, oversteps the limits of 
the higher ecclesiastical style." For an explanation I must refer to the story as 
I have given it. See, for the distribution of the subjects in this chapel, Lord 
Lindsay's Christian Art, vol. ii. A set of the subjects has since been published 
by the Arundel Society [I860]. 

2 [In Dr. Thausing's minute and exhaustive work on the Life of Albert Diirer 
the date of the publication of the Life of the Virgin is fixed at 1511, and the 
number of woodcuts is given as twenty, each one being briefly described. The 
catalogue of Bartsch gives fuller descriptions of the entire series.] 


The Seven Sorrows are the Prophecy of Simeon, the Flight 
into Egypt, Christ lost by his Mother, the Betrayal of Christ, 
the Crucifixion (with St. John and the Virgin only present), 
the Deposition from the Cross, the Ascension when the Virgin 
is left on earth. 

The Seven Joys and Sorrows are frequently found in altar 
pieces and religious prints, arranged in separate compartments, 
round the Madonna in the centre. Or they are combined in 
various groups into one large composition, as in a famous pic- 
ture by Hans Memling, wonderful for the poetry, expression, 
and finished execution. 1 

Another cycle of subjects consists of the fifteen Mysteries of 
the Rosary. 

The five Joyful Mysteries are the Annunciation, the Visi- 
tation, the Nativity, the Purification, and Christ found in the 

The five Dolorous or Sorrowful Mysteries are our Lord in 
the Garden of Olives, the Flagellation, Christ crowned with 
Thorns, the Procession to Calvary, the Crucifixion. 

The five Glorious Mysteries are the Resurrection, the As- 
cension, the Descent of the Holy Ghost, the Assumption, the 

A series of subjects thus arranged cannot be called strictly 
historical, but partakes of the mystical and devotional charac- 
ter. The purpose being to excite devout meditation, requires 
a particular sentiment, frequently distinguished from the merely 
dramatic and historical treatment in being accompanied by 
saints, votaries, and circumstances purely ideal ; as where the 
Wise Men bring their offerings, where St. Luke sits in a cor- 
ner painting the portrait of the Virgin, and St. Dominick 
kneels in adoration of the Mystery (Mabuse, Munich Gal- 
lery) ; 2 and in a hundred other examples. 

1 Altogether, on a careful consideration of this picture, I do not consider the 
title by which it is generally known as appropriate. It contains many groups 
which would not enter into the mystic joys or sorrows ; for instance, the Massacre 
of the Innocents, Christ at Emmaus, the Noli me tangere, and others. [Mending's 
Seven Joys is in the old Pinakothek, at Munich; the Seven Sorrows, in the 
Turin Gallery. The former has been called by Weale, the " Light of the World," 
and by Michielis, the "Triumph of Christ."] 

2 [There is no picture of this description attributed to Mabuse in the current 
(1894) official catalogue of the Munich Gallery.] 


IV. Titles of the Virgin Mary 

Of the various titles given to the Virgin Mary, and thence 
to certain effigies and pictures of her, some appear to me very 
touching, as expressive of the wants, the aspirations, the infirm- 
ities and sorrows, which are common to poor suffering human- 
ity, or of those divine attributes from which they hope to find 
aid and consolation. Thus we have — 

Santa Maria " del buon Consilio." Our Lady of good 

S. M. " del Soccorso." Our Lady of Succor. Our Lady of 
the Forsaken. 

S. M. " del buon Core." Our Lady of good Heart. 

S. M. "della Grazia." Our Lady of Grace. 

S. M. "di Misericordia." Our Lady of Mercy. 

S. M. " Auxilium Afflictorum." Help of the Afflicted. 

S. M. " Kefugium Peccatorum." Refuge of Sinners. 

S. M. " del Pianto," " del Dolore." Our Lady of Lamen- 
tation, or Sorrow. 

S. M. " Consolatrice," " della Consolazione," or " del Con- 
forto." Our Lady of Consolation. 

S. M. " della Speranza." Our Lady of Hope. 

Under these and similar titles she is invoked by the afflicted, 
and often represented with her ample robe outspread and up- 
held by angels, with votaries and suppliants congregated beneath 
its folds. In Spain, Nuestra Senora de la Merced is the pa- 
troness of the Order of Mercy ; and in this character she often 
holds in her hand small tablets bearing the badge of the Order. 1 

S. M. " della Liberta," or " Liberatrice," Our Lady of Lib- 
erty ; and S. M. " della Catena," our Lady of Fetters. In this 
character she is invoked by prisoners and captives. 

S. M. " del Parto." Our Lady of Good Delivery, invoked 
by women in travail. 2 

1 See Legends of the Monastic Orders, p. 243. 

2 Dante alludes to her in this character: — 

E per ventura udi " Dolce Maria ! " 

Dinanzi a noi chiamar cosi nel pianto 

Come fa donna che 'n partorir sia. — Purg. c. xx. 

[And midst the wailing, one before us heard 
Cry out, "0 blessed Virgin," as a dame 
In the sharp pangs of childbed. 

Cary's Translation.] 


S. M. "del Topolo." Our Lady rf tin- People. 

S. M. "della Yittoria." Our Lady of Victory. 

S. M. "della Pace." Our Lady of Peace. 

S. M. "della Sapienza," Our Lady of Wisdom; and S. B£ 
"della Perseveranza," Our Lady of Perseverance. (Some- 
times placed in colleges, with a book in her hand, as patroness 
of students.) 

S. M. "della Salute." Our Lady of Health or Salvation. 
Under this title pictures and churches have been dedicated 
after the cessation of a plague, or any other public calamity. 1 

Other titles are derived from particular circumstances and 
accessories, as — 

S. M. " del Presepio." Our Lady of the Cradle ; generally 
a Nativity, or when she is adoring her Child. 

S. M. " della Scodella" — with the cup or porringer, where 
she is taking water from a fountain ; generally a Riposo. 

S. M. " delF Libro," where she holds the Book of Wis- 

S. M. " della Cintola." Our Lady of the Girdle ; where 
she is either giving the Girdle to St. Thomas, or where the 
Child holds it in his hand. 

S. M, " della Lettera." Our Lady of the Letter. This is 
the title given to Our Lady as protectress of the city of Mes- 
sina. According to the Sicilian legend she honored the people 
of Messina by writing a letter to them, dated from Jerusalem, 
"in the year of her Son, 42." In the effigies of the " Ma- 
donna della Lettera," she holds this letter in her hand. 

S. M. " della Rosa." Our Lady of the Rose. A title 
given to several pictures in which the rose, which is conse- 
crated to her, is placed either in her hand or in that of the 

S. M. "della Stella." Our Lady of the Star. She wean 
the star as one of her attributes embroidered on her mantle. 

S. M. "del Fiore." Our Lady of the Flower. She has 
this title especially as protectress of Florence. 

S. M. "della Spina." She holds in her hand the crown of 
thorns, and under this title is the protectress of Pisa. 

S. M. "del Rosario." Our Lady of the Rosary, with the 
mystic string of beads. I do not remember any instance of 

1 There is also somewhere in France a chapel dedicated to Notre Dame de la 


the Rosary placed in the hand of the Virgin .or the Child till 
after the battle of Lepanto (1571), and the institution of the 
Festival of the Rosary, as an act of thanksgiving. After this 
time pictures of the Madonna " del Rosario " abound, and 
may generally be found in the Dominican churches. There is 
a famous example by Guido in the Bologna Gallery, and a very 
beautiful one by Murillo in the Dulwich Gallery. 

S. M. " del Carmine." Our Lady of Mount Carmel. She 
is protectress of the Order of the Carmelites, and is often 
represented holding in her hand small tablets, on which is the 
effigy of herself with the Child. 

S. M. " de Belem." Our Lady of Bethlehem. Under this 
title she is the patroness of the Jeronymites, principally in 
Spain and Portugal. 

S. M. " della Neve." Our Lady of the Snow. In Spain, 
S. Maria la Blanca. To this legend of the snow the magnificent 
church of S. M. Maggiore at Rome is said to owe its origin. 
A certain Roman patrician, whose name was John (Giovanni 
Patricio), being childless, prayed of the Virgin to direct him 
how best to bestow his worldly wealth. She appeared to him 
in a dream on the night of the 5th of August, 352, and com- 
manded him to build a church in her honor, on a spot where 
snow would be found the next morning. The same vision hav- 
ing appeared to his wife and the reigning pope, Liberius, they 
repaired in procession the next morning to the summit of Mount 
Esquiline, where, notwithstanding the heat of the weather, 
a large patch of ground was miraculously covered with snow, 
and on it Liberius traced out with his crozier the plan of the 
church. This story has been often represented in Art, and is 
easily recognized ; but it is curious that the two most beauti- 
ful pictures consecrated to the honor of the Madonna della 
Neve are Spanish, and not Roman, and were painted by Murillo 
about the time that Philip IV. of Spain sent rich offerings to 
the church of S. M. Maggiore, thus giving a kind of popularity 
to the legend. The picture represents the patrician John and 
his wife asleep, and the vision of the Virgin (one of the love- 
liest ever painted by Murillo) breaking upon them in splendor 
through the darkness of the night ; while in the dim distance is 
seen the Esquiline (or what is meant for it) covered with 
snow. In the second picture, John and his wife are kneeling 
before the pope, " a grand old ecclesiastic, like one of Titian's 


pontiffs." These pictures, after being carried off by the French 
from the little church of S. M. la Blanca at Seville, are now 
in the Royal Gallery at Madrid. 

S. Maria " di Loretto." Our Lady of Loretto. The ori- 
gin of this title is the famous legend of the Santa Casa, the 
house at Nazareth, which was the birthplace of the Virgin 
and the scene of the Annunciation. During the incursions of 
the Saracens, the Santa Casa, being threatened with profana- 
tion, if not destruction, was taken up by the angels and con- 
veyed over land and sea till it was set down on the coast of 
Dalmatia ; but not being safe there, the angels again took it 
up, and, bearing it over the Adriatic, set it down in a grove 
near Loretto. But certain wicked brigands having disturbed its 
sacred quietude by strife and murder, the house again changed 
its place, and was at length set down on the spot where it 
now stands. The date of this miracle is placed in 1295. 

The Madonna di Loretto is usually represented as seated with 
the Divine Child on the roof of a house, which is sustained at 
the corners by four angels, and thus borne over sea and land. 
From the celebrity of Loretto as a place of pilgrimage, this 
representation became popular, and is often found in chapels 
dedicated to our Lady of Loretto. Another effigy of our 
Lady of Loretto is merely a copy of a very old Greek " Virgin 
and Child," which is enshrined in the Santa Casa. 

S. M. " del Pillar," Our Lady of the Pillar, is protectress 
of Saragossa. According to the legend, she descended from 
heaven standing on an alabaster pillar, and thus appeared to 
St. James (Santiago) when he was preaching the gospel in 
Spain. The miraculous pillar is preserved in the cathedral of 
Saragossa, and the legend appears frequently in Spanish Art. 
Also in a very inferior picture by Nicholas Poussin, now in the 

Some celebrated pictures are individually distinguished by 
titles derived from some particular object in the composition, 
as Raphael's Madonna del Impannata, 1 so called from the win- 
dow in the background being partly shaded with a piece of 
linen. (In the Pitt] Palace, Florence.) Correggio's Vierge au 

1 [The authenticity of this picture is douhtful. Crowe and Cavalcaselle con- 
sider it the comhined work of Raphael and Giulio Romano. Vide Ji<iphael, ii. 
note on page 173.] 


Panier, so called from the workbasket which stands beside 
her (in our National Gallery) ; Murillo's Virgen de la Servil- 
leta, the Virgin of the Napkin [Seville], in allusion to the din- 
ner-napkin on which it was painted. 1 Others are denominated 
from certain localities, as [Raphael's] Madonna di Foligno 
(now in the Vatican) ; others from the names of families 
to whom they have belonged, as [Raphael's] Madonna della 
Famiglia Staffa, 2 at Perugia. 

Those visions and miracles with which the Virgin Mary 
favored many of the saints, as St. Luke (who was her secre- 
tary and painter), St. Catherine, St. Francis, St. Herman, and 
others, have already been related in the former volumes, and 
need not be repeated here. 

With regard to the churches dedicated to the Virgin, I shall 
not attempt to enumerate even the most remarkable, as almost 
every town in Christian Europe contains one or more bearing 
her name. The most ancient of which tradition speaks was a 
chapel beyond the Tiber, at Rome, which is said to have been 
founded in 217, on the site where S. Maria-in-Trastevere now 
stands. But there are one or two which carry their preten- 
sions much higher ; for the cathedral at Toledo and the cathe- 
dral at Chartres both claim the honor of having been dedicated 
to the Virgin while she was yet alive. 3 The Borghese chapel 
in the church of S. Maria Maggiore at Rome was dedicated 
to the honor of the Virgin Mary by Paul V. in 1611 — the 
same pope who in 1615 promulgated the famous bull relative 
to the Immaculate Conception. The scheme of decoration in 
this gorgeous chapel is very remarkable, as testifying to the 
development which the theological idea of the Virgin, as the 
Sposa or personified Church, had attained at this period, and 
because it is not, as in other examples, either historical or de- 
votional, but purely doctrinal. 

As we enter, the profusion of ornament, the splendor of 

1 There is a beautiful engraving in Stirling-Maxwell's Annals of the Artists 
of Spain. 

2 [Now in the Hermitage of St. Petersburg, having been purchased (1871) of 
the Count Scipione Connestabile by the emperor of Russia. It is usually called 
the Connestabile Madonna.] 

8 In England we have 2,120 churches dedicated in her honor; and one of the 
largest and most important of the London parishes bears her name — " St. Marie- 
la-bonne ■ [Marylebone]. 


color, marbles, gilding, from the pavement under oui feet to the 
summit of the lofty (Ionic, are really dazzling. Pint, and ele- 
vated above all, we have the u Madonna della Concezione," Our 

Lady of the Immaculate Conception, in a glory of light, sus- 
tained and surrounded by angels, having the crescent under her 
feet, according to the approved treatment. Beneath, round 
the dome, we read in conspicuous letters, the text from the 
the Revelation: "Signum ■ Magnum ■ Apparavit 'in Coelo * 
Mulier • Amicta ■ Sole ■ et Luna ' Sub ■ Pedibus • Ejus . et In 
Capite ' Ejus ■ Corona * Stellarum * Duodecim " (Rev. xii. 1). 
Lower down is a second inscription, expressing the dedication. 
" Marias * Christi • Matri * Semper • Virgini ' Paulus ■ Quintus ' 
P. M." The decorations beneath the cornice consist of 
eighteen large frescoes, and six statues in marble, above life 
size. Beginning with the frescoes w r e have the subjects arranged 
in the following order : — 

1. The four great prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and 
Daniel, in their usual place in the four pendatives of the dome. 

2. Two large frescoes. In the first, the Vision of St. Gre- 
gory Thaumaturgus 1 and heretics bitten by serpents. In the 
second St. John Damascene and St. Ildefonso miraculously re- 
warded for defending the Majesty of the Virgin. 

3. A large fresco, representing the four Doctors of the 
Church, who had especially written in honor of the Virgin : 
viz., Irenseus and Cyprian, Ignatius and Theophilus, grouped 
two and two. 

4. St. Luke, who painted the Virgin, and whose Gospel 
contains the best account of her. 

5. As spiritual conquerors in the name of the Virgin, St. 
Dominick and St. Francis, each attended by two companions 
of his Order. 

6. As military conquerors in the name of the Virgin, the 
Emperor Heraclius, and Narses, the general against the Arians. 

7. A group of three female figures, representing the three 
famous saintly princesses who in marriage preserved their vir- 
ginity, Pulcheria, Edeltruda (our famous queen Ethelreda), 
and Cunegunda. (See Legends of the Monastic Orders, pp. 
93, 200.) 

1 St. Gregory Thauinatur<,Mis, bishop of Pontlli in the third century, was 
favored by a vision of the Trinity which enabled him to confute and utterly 
subdue the Sabellian heretics, the Unitarians of his time. 


8. A group of three learned Bishops who had especially de- 
fended the immaculate purity of the Virgin, St. Cyril, St. An- 
selm, and St. Denis (?). 

9. The miserable ends of those who were opposed to the 
honor of the Virgin. 1. The death of Julian the Apostate, 
very oddly represented ; he lies on an altar, transfixed by an 
arrow, as a victim ; St. Mercurius in the air. 2. The death of 
Leo IV. who destroyed the effigies of the Virgin. 3. The 
death of Constantine IV., also a famous iconoclast. 

The statues which are placed in niches are : — 

1, 2. St. Joseph as the nominal husband, and St. John as 
the nominal son of the Virgin ; the latter, also, as prophet 
and poet, with reference to the passage in the Revelation, 
chapter xii. 1. 

3, 4. Aaron, as priestly ancestor (because his wand blos- 
somed), and David, as kingly ancestor of the Virgin. 

5, 6. St. Dionysius, the Areopagite who was present at the 
death of the Virgin (see Sacred and Legendary Art, p. 698), 
and St. Bernard who composed the famous Salve Reglna, in 
her honor. 

Such is this grand systematic scheme of decoration, which, 
to those who regard it cursorily, is merely a sumptuous con- 
fusion of colors and forms, or at best " a fine example of the 
Guido school and Bernino." It is altogether a very complete 
and magnificent specimen of the prevalent style of Art, and a 
very comprehensive and suggestive expression of the prevalent 
tendency of thought in the Roman Catholic Church from the 
beginning of the seventeenth century. In no description of 
this chapel have I ever seen the names and subjects accurately 
given : the style of Art belongs to the decadence, and the taste 
being worse than questionable, the pervading doctrinal idea has 
been neglected or never understood. 1 

Brief and inadequate as are these introductory notices, they 
will, I hope, facilitate the comprehension of the critical de- 
tails into which it has been necessary to enter in the following 
pages, and lend some new interest to the subjects described. I 
have heard the artistic treatment of the Madonna styled a mo- 
notonous theme ; and to those who see only the perpetual iter- 

1 [This description of the Borghese chapel was added by Mrs. Jameson in a 
later edition.] 


ation of the same groups on the walls (if churches and galler- 
ies, varied as they may suppose only by the fancy of the painter, 
it may seem so. But beyond the visible forms, then; lief 
much that is suggestive to a thinking mind — to the lover 
of Art a higher significance, a deeper beauty, a more various 
interest, than could at first be imagined. 

In fact, the greatest mistakes in point of taste arise in gen- 
eral from not knowing what we ought to demand of the ait i-t , 
not only in regard to the subject expressed, but with reference 
to the times in which he lived, and his own individuality. An 
axiom which I have heard confidently set forth, that a picture 
is worth nothing unless " he who runs may read," has inun- 
dated the world with frivolous and pedantic criticism. A pic- 
ture or any other work of Art is worth nothing except in so 
far as it has emanated from mind, and is addressed to mind. 
It should, indeed, be read like a book. Pictures, as it has 
been well said, are the books of the unlettered, but then we 
must at least understand the language in which they are writ- 
ten. And further — if, in the old times, it was a species of 
idolatry to regard these beautiful representations as endued 
with a specific sanctity and power ; so, in these days, it is a 
sort of atheism to look upon them reckless of their signifi- 
cance, regardless of the influences through which they were 
produced, without acknowledgment of the mind which called 
them into being, without reference to the intention of the 
artist in his own creation. 


The Virgin Mary 

Lat. 1. Virgo Gloriosa. 2. Virgo Sponsa Dei. 3. Virgo Potens. 
4. Virgo Veneranda. 5. Virgo Praedicanda. 6. Virgo Clemens. 
7. Virgo Sapientissima. 8. Sancta Virgo Virginum. Ital. La 
Vergine Gloriosa. La Gran Vergine delle Vergini. Fr. La 
Grande Vierge. 

There are representations of the Virgin, and among them 
some of the earliest in existence, which place her before us as 
an object of religious veneration, but in which the predominant 
idea is not that of her maternity. No doubt it was as the 
mother of the Saviour Christ, that she was originally venerated ; 
but in the most ancient monuments of the Christian faith, the 
sarcophagi, the rude paintings in the catacombs, and the 
mosaics executed before the seventh century, she appears 
simply as a veiled female figure, not in any respect character- 
ized. She stands in a subordinate position on one side of 
Christ ; St. Peter or St. John the Baptist on the other. 

When the worship of the Virgin came to us from the East, 
with it came the Greek type — and for ages we had no other 
— the Greek classical type, with something of the Oriental or 
Egyptian character. When thus she stands before us without 
her Son, and the apostles or saints on each side taking the 
subordinate position, then we are to regard her not only as the 
mother of Christ, but as the second Eve, the mother of all 
suffering humanity ; The Woman of the primeval prophecy 
whose issue was to bruise the head of the Serpent ; the Virgin 
predestined from the 'beginning of the world ; who was to 
bring forth the Redeemer of the world ; the mystical Spouse 
of the Canticles ; the glorified Bride of a celestial Bridegroom ; 
the received Type of the Church of Christ, afflicted on earth, 
triumphant and crowned in heaven; the most glorious, most 



pure, most pious, most clement, most sacred Queen and Mother. 
Virgin of Virgins. 

The form under which we find this grand and mysterious 

idea of glorified womanhood originally embodied is wonder- 
fully majestic and simple. A female figure of colossal dimen- 
sions, far exceeding in proportion all the attendant personages 
and accessories, stands immediately beneath some figure or 
emblem representing almighty power: either it is the omnip- 
otent hand stretched out above her, holding the crown of 
immortality; or it is the mystic dove which hovers over her; 
or it is the half-form of Christ, in the act of benediction. 

She stands with arms raised and extended wide, the ancient 
attitude of prayer ; or with hands 
merely stretched forth, express- 
ing admiration, humility, and 
devout love. She is attired in 
an ample tunic of blue or white, 
with a white veil over her head, 
thrown a little back, and dis- 
playing an oval face with regu- 
lar features, mild, dignified — 
sometimes, in the figures of the 
ruder ages, rather stern and 
melancholy, from the inability 
of the artist to express beauty ; 
but when least beautiful, and 
most formal and motionless, al- 
ways retaining something of the 
original conception, and often 
inexpressibly striking and ma- 

The earliest figure of this 
character to which I can refer 
is the mosaic in the oratory of 
San Venanzio, in the Lateran, 
the work of Greek artists under 

the popes John IV. and Theodorus, both Greeks by birth, 
and who presided over the Church from G40 to 649. In the 
vault of the tribune, over the altar, we have first, at the sum- 
mit, a figure of Christ half length, with his hand extended in 
benediction ; on each side, a worshipping angel ; below, in 

The Virgin (Mosaic) 


the centre, the figure of the Virgin according to the ancient 
type, standing with extended arms, in a violet or rather dark 
blue tunic and white veil, with a small cross pendant on her 
bosom. On her right hand stands St. Paul, on her left St. 
Peter ; beyond St. Peter and St. Paul, St. John the Baptist 
holding a cross, and St. John the Evangelist holding a book ; 
and beyond these again, St. Domnio and St. Venantius, two 
martyred saints who perished in Dalmatia, and whose relics 
were brought out of that country by the founder of the chapel, 
John IV., himself a Dalmatian by birth. At the extremities 
of this group, or rather line of figures, stand the two popes, 
John IV. and Theodorus, under whom the chapel was founded 
and dedicated. Although this ancient mosiac has been many 
times restored, the original composition remains. 

Similar, but of later date, is the effigy of the Virgin over 
the altar of the archiepiscopal chapel at Ravenna. This 
mosaic, with others of Greek work, was brought from the old 
tribune of the cathedral, when it was altered and repaired, and 
the ancient decorations removed or destroyed. 

Another instance, also, at Ravenna, is the basso-relievo in 
Greek marble, and evidently of Greek workmanship, which 
is said to have existed from the earliest ages, in the church of 
S. Maria-in-Porto-Fuori, and is now preserved in the S. Maria- 
in-Porto, where I saw it in 1847. It is probably as old as 
the sixth or seventh century. The features are very regu- 
lar and beautiful, quite the Greek type. 

In St. Mark's at Venice, in the grand old basilica at Tor- 
cello, in San Donato at Murano, at Monreale, near Palermo, 
and in most of the old churches in the East of Europe, we 
find similar figures, either Byzantine in origin, or in imitation 
of the Byzantine style. 

But about the middle of the thirteenth century, and con- 
temporary with Cimabue, we find the first indication of a de- 
parture, even in the mosaics, from the lifeless, formal type of 
Byzantine art. The earliest example of a more animated treat- 
ment is, perhaps, the figure in the apsis of St. John Lateran 
(Rome). In the centre is an immense cross, emblem of salva- 
tion ; the four rivers of Paradise (the four Gospels) flow from its 
base ; and the faithful, figured by the hart and the sheep, drink 
from these streams. Below the cross is represented, of a small 
size, the New Jerusalem guarded by an archangel. On the 



right stands the Virgin, of colossal dimensions. She places 
one hand on the head of a diminutive kneeling figure, I 'ope 
Nicholas IV., 1 by whom the mosaic was dedicated about 1U90 ; 

Madonna (attributed to Simone Memmi) 

the other hand, stretched forth, seems to recommend the votary 
to the mercy of Christ. 

Fall-length effigies of the Virgin seated on a throne, or 
glorified as queen of heaven, or queen of angels, without her 
divine Infant in her arms, are exceedingly rare in every age ; 

1 For a minute reduction of the whole composition, see Kugler's Handbook, 
p. 47. 


now and then to be met with in the early pictures and illumi- 
nations, but never, that I know of, in the later schools of Art. 
A signal example is the fine enthroned Madonna [attributed to 
Simone Memmi] in the Campo Santo [Pisa], who receives St. 
Ranieri when presented by St. Peter and St. Paul. 

On the dalmatica (or deacon's robe) preserved in the sac- 
risty of St. Peter's at Rome (which Lord Lindsay well describes 
as a perfect example of the highest style of Byzantine art), 1 
the embroidery on the front represents Christ in a golden cir- 
cle of glory, robed in white, with the youthful and beardless 
face, his eyes looking into yours. He sits on the rainbow ; 
his left hand holds an open book, inscribed, " Come, ye blessed 
of my Father ! " while the right is raised in benediction. 
The Virgin stands on the right, entirely within the glory ; " she 
is sweet in feature, and graceful in attitude, in her long white 
robe." The Baptist stands on the left, outside the glory. 

In pictures representing the glory of heaven, Paradise, or 
the Last Judgment, we have this idea constantly repeated — 
of the Virgin on the right hand of her Son, but not on the 
same throne with him, unless it be a Coronation, which is a 
subject apart. 

In the great altar-piece 2 of the brothers Van Eyck, the up- 
per part contains three compartments ; 3 in the centre is Christ, 
wearing the triple tiara, and carrying the globe, as King, as 
Priest, as Judge ; on each side, as usual, but in separate com- 
partments, the Virgin and St. John the Baptist. The Vir- 
gin, a noble queenly figure, full of serene dignity and grace, 
is seated on a throne, and wears a superb crown, formed of 
lilies, roses, and gems, over her long fair hair. She is read- 
ing intently in a book — the Book of Wisdom. She is here 
the S])o?isa Dei, and the Virgo Sapientissima, the most wise 
Virgin. This is the only example I can recollect of the Virgin 
seated on the right hand of her Son in glory, and holding a 
book. In every other instance she is standing or seated with 
her hands joined or clasped over her bosom, and her eyes 
turned towards him. 

1 Christian Art, vol. i. p. 287. 

2 [The Adoration of the Lamb. Painted by John and Hubert van Eyck for 
the church of St. John in Ghent, 14:32.] 

3 It is well known that the different parts of this great work have been dis- 
persed. The three compartments mentioned here are at Berlin. 



Among innumerable examples, I will cite only one, perhaps 
the most celebrated of all, and familiar, it may be presumed, 

to most of my readers, though perhaps they may not have re- 
garded it with reference to the 
character and position given to 
the Virgin. It is one of the four 
great frescoes of the Camera della 
Segnatura, in the Vatican, exhibit- 
ing the four highest objects of 
mental culture — Theology, Po- 
etry, Philosophy, and Jurispru- 
dence. In the first of these, com- 
monly, but erroneously, called La 
Disputa del Sacramento, Raphael 
has combined into one great scene 
the whole system of theology as 
set forth by the Catholic Church ; 
it is a sort of concordance between 
heaven and earth — between the 
celestial and terrestrial witnesses 
of the truth. The central group 
above shows us the Redeemer of 
the world, seated with extended 
arms, having on the right the Vir- 
gin in her usual place, and on the 
left, also in his accustomed place, 
St. John the Baptist ; both seated, 

and nearly on a level with Christ. The Baptist is here in his 
character of the Precursor sent " to bear witness of the light, 
that all men through him might believe M (John i. 7). The 
Virgin is exhibited, not merely as the Mother, the Sposa, the 
Church, but as Heavenly Wisdom, for in this character the 
Catholic Church has applied to her the magnificent passage in 
Proverbs : " The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His 
way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting, 
from the beginning, or ever the earth was." " Then I was by 
Him as one brought up with Him, and I was daily His de- 
light, rejoicing always before Him " (Prov. viii. 22, 23, 30). 

Nothing can be more beautiful than the serene grace and the 
mingled majesty and humility in the figure of the Virgin, and in 
her countenance, as she looks up adoring to the Fountain of all 

Virgo Sapientissima (Van 



light, all wisdom, all goodness. Above the principal group 
is the emblematical image of the Father ; below is the holy 
Dove, in the act of descending to the earth. The rest of this 
wonderful and suggestive composition I omit here, as foreign 
to my subject. 1 

The Virgin alone, separate from her Son, standing or en- 
throned before us, simply as the Vergine Dea or Regina Cwli, 
is rarely met with in modern Art, either in sculpture or paint- 
ing. I will give, however, one single example. 

In an altar-piece painted by Cosimo E-oselli, for the Serviti 

Virgin from Disputa (Raphael) 

at Florence, she stands alone, and in a majestic attitude, on a 
raised pedestal. She holds a book, and looks upward to the 
holy Dove, hovering over her head ; she is here again the 
Virgo Sapiential. (Uffizi, Florence.) On one side are St. 
John the Evangelist and St. Antonino of Florence (see Le- 

1 For a detailed description of this fresco see Passavant's Rafael [Ger. ed.], 
vol. i. p. 140; [Eng. ed. p. 85; Layard's Revision of Kugler's Handbook, vol. 
ii. p. 488 ; also Miintz's Raphael, which contains a full account of three original 
drawings for the Disputa, with engravings of the same.] 


gends of the Monastic Orders, p. 404) ; on the other, St. Peter 
ami St. Philip Benozzi; in front kneel St. Margaret and St. 

Catherine; all appear to contemplate with rapturous de- 
votion the vision of the Madonna. The heads and attitudes 
in this picture have that character of elegance which dis- 
tinguished the Florentine school at this period, without any 
of those extravagances and peculiarities into which Piero often 
fell; for the man had evidently a touch of madness, and 
was as eccentric in his works as in his life and conversa- 
tion. The order of the Serviti, for whom he painted this 
picture, was instituted in honor of the Virgin, and for her par- 
ticular service, which will account for the unusual treatment. 
(Legends of the Monastic Orders, p. 232.) [A striking mod- 
ern example of the Madonna Enthroned without her Son 
is the painting by the American artist, Abbot Thayer. The 
Virgin is seated on a pedestal in the midst of a landscape. 
Her hands lie loosely clasped in her lap, and she gazes before 
her with an expression of indescribable sweetness and purity. 
The figure has a simple queenly dignity which is very impres- 
sive. The Virgin's little court consists of two charming chil- 
dren who kneel one on each side of her. The uniqueness of 
the composition and the remarkable effectiveness of the color 
scheme have made this picture famous. It was purchased of 
the artist by J. Montgomery Sears, Esq., of Boston, Massa- 
chusetts, in whose collection it now (1894) has a prominent 

The numerous — often most beautiful — heads and half- 
length figures which represent the Virgin alone, looking up 
with a devout or tender expression, or with the head declined, 
and the hands joined in prayer, or crossed over the bosom 
with virginal humility and modesty, belong to this class of 
representations. In the ancient heads, most of which are imi- 
tations of the old Greek effigies ascribed to St. Luke, there 
is often great simplicity and beauty. When she wears the 
crown over her veil, or bears a sceptre in her hand, she 
figures as the queen of heaven (Reglna Cwli). When such 
effigies are attended by adoring angels, she is the queen of 
angels {lieyina Angelorum). When she is weeping or holding 
the crown of thorns, she is Our Lady of Sorrow, the Mater 
Dolorosa, When she is merely veiled, with folded hands, 
and in her features all the beauty, maiden purity, and sweet- 


ness which the artist could render, she is simply the Blessed 
Virgin, the Madonna, the Santa Maria Vergine. Such heads 
are very rare in the earlier schools of art, which seldom repre- 
sented the Virgin without her Child, but became favorite 
studies of the later painters, and were multiplied and varied 
to infinitude from the beginning of the seventeenth century. 
From these every trace of the mystical and solemn conception 
of antiquity gradually disappeared ; till, for the majestic ideal 
of womanhood, we have merely inane prettiness, or rustic, or 
even meretricious grace, the borrowed charms of some earthly 

L' Incoronata 

The Coronation of the Virgin. Lat. Coronatio Beatae Mariae Vir- 
ginia. Ital. Maria coronata dal divin suo Figlio. Fr. Le Cou- 
ronnement de la Sainte Vierge. Ger. Die Kronung Maria. 

The usual type of the Church triumphant is the Coronation 
of the Virgin properly so called, Christ in the act of crown- 
ing his Mother; one of the most popular, significant, and 
beautiful subjects in the whole range of mediaeval Art. 

When in a series of subjects from the life of the Virgin, so 
often met with in religious prints and in the Roman Catholic 
churches, we find her death and her assumption followed by 
her coronation ; when the bier or sarcophagus and the twelve 
apostles appear below, while heaven opens upon us above, 
then the representation assumes a kind of dramatic character : 
it is the last and most glorious event of her history. The 
Mother, dying on earth, is received into glory by her Son who 
had gone before her, and who thus celebrates the consumma- 
tion of his victory and hers. 

But when the scene is treated apart as a single subject; 
when, instead of the apostles gazing up to heaven, or looking 
with amazement into the tomb from which she had risen, we 
find the lower part of the composition occupied by votaries, 
patron saints, or choral angels, then the subject must be re- 
garded as absolutely devotional and typical. It is not a scene 
or an action ; it is a great mystery. It is consecrated to the 
honor of the Virgin as type of the spiritual Church. The 
Espoused is received into glory and crowned with the crown of 
everlasting life, exalted above angels, spirits, and men. In this 
sense we must understand the subject when we find it in eccle- 

l' incoronata 73 

siastical sculpture, over the doors of places of worship, in the 
decorative carving of church utensils, in stained glass. In many 
of the Italian churches there is a chapel especially dedicated 
to the Virgin in this character, called la Capella dell' Incoro- 
nata ; and both in Germany and Italy it is a frequent subject 
as an altar-piece. 

In all the most ancient examples, it is Christ only who 
places the crown on the head of his Mother, seated on the 
same throne and placed at his right hand. Sometimes we have 
the two figures only ; sometimes the Padre Eterno looks down, 
and the Holy Spirit in the form of the dove hovers above or 
between them. In some later examples the Virgin is seated 
between the Father and the Son, both in human form : they 
place the crown on her head, each holding it with one hand, 
the Holy Spirit hovering above. In other representations the 
Virgin kneels at the feet of Christ, and he places the crown on 
her head, while two or more rejoicing and adoring angels make 
heavenly music, or all Paradise opens to the view ; and there 
are examples where not only the share of attendant angels, but 
a vast assembly of patriarchs, saints, martyrs, fathers of the 
Church — the whole company of the blessed spirits — assist at 
this great ceremony. 

I will now give some celebrated examples of the various 
styles of treatment, which will be better than pages of general 

There is a group in mosaic, which I believe to be singular 
in its kind, where the Virgin is enthroned with Christ. She 
is seated at his right hand, at the same elevation, and alto- 
gether as his equal. His right arm embraces her, and his 
hand rests on her shoulder. She wears a gorgeous crown, 
which her son has placed on her brow. Christ has only the 
cruciform nimbus ; in his left hand is an open book, on which 
is inscribed, " Veni, Electa mea," etc. " Come, my chosen 
one, and I will place thee upon my throne." The Virgin 
holds a tablet, on which are the words, " His left hand 
should be under my head, and his right hand should embrace 
me " (Cant. viii. 3). The omnipotent hand is stretched forth 
in benediction above. Here the Virgin is the type of the 
Church triumphant and glorified, having overcome the world ; 
and the solemn significance of the whole representation is to 
be found in the Book of Revelation : "To him that overcom- 


eth will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also 
overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne " 
(Rev. iii. 21). 

This mosaic, in which, be it observed, the Virgin is en- 
throned with Christ, and embraced, not crowned, by him, is, 
I believe, unique either as a picture or a church decoration. 
It is not older than the twelfth century, is very ill executed, 
but is curious from the peculiarity of the treatment. (Rome, 
S. Maria-in-Trastevere.) 

In the mosaic in the tribune of S. Maria Maggiore at Rome, 
perhaps the earliest example extant of the Coronation, properly 
so called, the subject is treated with a grand and solemn sim- 
plicity. Christ and the Virgin, colossal figures, are seated on 
the same regal throne within a circular glory. The back- 
ground is blue studded with golden stars. He places the 
crown on her head with his right hand ; in the left he holds 
an open book, with the usual text, " Veni, Electa mea, et 
ponam te in thronum meum," etc. She bends slightly for- 
ward, and her hands are lifted in adoration. Above and 
around the circular glory the emblematical vine twines in ara- 
besque form : among the branches and leaves sit peacocks and 
other birds ; the peacock being the old emblem of immortality, 
as birds in general are emblems of spirituality. On each side 
of the glory are nine adoring angels, representing the nine 
choirs of the heavenly hierarchy ; beyond these on the right 
stand St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Francis ; on the left, St. John 
the Baptist, St. John the Evangelist, and St. Anthony of 
Padua ; all these figures being very small in proportion to 
those of Christ and the Virgin. Smaller still, and quite 
diminutive in comparison, are the kneeling figures of Pope 
Nicholas IV. and Cardinal Giacomo Colonna, under whose 
auspices the mosaic was executed by Jacopo della Turrita, a 
Franciscan friar, about 1288. In front flows the river Jordan, 
symbol of baptism and regeneration ; on its shore stands the 
hart, the emblem of religious aspiration. Underneath the 
central group is the inscription, — 

Maria Virgo assumpta ad etherium Thalamum 
In quo Rex Regum stellato sedet solio. 

The whole of this vast and poetical composition is admirably 
executed, and it is the more curious as' being, perhaps, one 


of the earliest examples of the glorification of St. Francis 
and St. Anthony of Padua (Legends of the Monastic Orders, 
pp. 256, 292), who were canonized about thirty or forty years 
before. 1 

The mosaic, by Gaddo Gaddi (1330), over the great door in 

Coronation (Mosaic, 1290) 

the cathedral at Florence, is somewhat different. Christ, 
while placing the crown on the head of his Mother with his 

1 I have given the central group only, because in the last edition of Kugler's 
Handbook, vol. i., may be found a beautiful and elaborate reduction of the 
whole composition, by Mr. George Scharf. The same volume contains the mo- 
saic of the Lateran and an exquisite reduction of the Coronation, by Angelico 
da Fiesole, to which I must refer the reader. 


left hand, blesses her with his right hand, and he appears to 
have laid aside his own crown, which lies near him. The 
attitude of the Virgin is also peculiar. 1 

In a small altar-piece by Giotto (S. Croce, Florence), Christ 
and the Virgin are seated together on a throne. He places 
the jewelled crown on her head with both hands, while she 
bends forward with her hands crossed in her lap, and the 
softest expression in her beautiful face, as if she as meekly 
resigned herself to this honor, as heretofore to the angelic sal- 
utation which pronounced her " Blessed : " angels kneel before 
the throne with censers and offerings. In another, by Giotto, 
Christ, wearing a coronet of gems, is seated on a throne : the 
Virgin kneels before him with hands joined : twenty angels 
with musical instruments attend around. (D'Agincourt, Pein- 
ture, pi. cxiv.) In the Coronation by Piero Laurati [church 
of Misericordia, Monte Pulciano], the figures of Christ and the 
Virgin, seated together, resemble in sentiment and expression 
those of Giotto. The angels are arranged in a glory around, 
and the treatment is wholly typical. 

One of the most beautiful and celebrated of the pictures 
of Angelico da Fiesole is the Coronation now in the Louvre ; 
formerly it stood over the high altar of the church of St. 
Dominick at Fiesole, where Angelico had been nurtured, and 
made his profession as monk. The composition is conceived 
as a grand regal ceremony, but the beings who figure in it are 
touched with a truly celestial grace. The Redeemer, crowned 
himself, and wearing the ermine mantle of an earthly monarch, 
is seated on a magnificent throne, under a Gothic canopy, to 
which there is an ascent of nine steps. He holds the crown, 
which he is in the act of placing, with both hands, on the head 
of the Virgin, who kneels before him, with features of the 
softest and most delicate beauty, and an expression of divine 
humility. Her face, seen in profile, is partly shaded by a long 
transparent veil, flowing over her ample robe of a delicate 
crimson, beneath which is a blue tunic. On each side, a choir 
of lovely angels, clothed from head to foot in spangled tunics 
of azure and rose-color, with shining wings, make celestial 
music, while they gaze with looks of joy and adoration towards 

1 In the same cathedral (which is dedicated to the Virgin Mary) the circular 
window of the choir opposite to the mosaic exhibits the coronation. The de- 
sign, by Donatello, is eminently fine and classical. 



the principal group. Lower down on the right of the throne 
are eighteen, and on the left twenty-two, of the principal 
patriarchs, apostles, saints, and martyrs ; among whom the 
worthies of Angelico's own community, St. Dominick and St. 
Peter Martyr, are of course conspicuous. At the foot of the 
throne kneel on one side St. Augustine, St. Benedict, St. 

Coronation (Pinturicchio) 

Charlemagne, the royal saint, St. Nicholas, and St. Thomas 
Aquinas holding a pen (the great literary saint of the Domini- 
can order, and author of the Office of the Virgin) ; on the left 
we have a group of virgins, St. Agnes, St. Catherine witli her 
wheel, St. Catherine of Siena, her habit spangled with stars, 
St. Cecilia crowned with her roses, and Mary Magdalene, with 


her long golden hair. 1 Beneath this great composition runs a 
border or predella, in seven compartments, containing in the 
centre a Pieta, and on each side three small subjects from the 
history of St. Dominick, to whom the church, whence it was 
taken, is dedicated. The spiritual beauty of the heads, the 
delicate tints of the coloring, an ineffable charm of mingled 
brightness and repose shed over the whole, give to this lovely 
picture an effect like that of a church hymn sung at some high 
festival by voices tuned in harmony — " blest voices uttering 
joy ! " 

In strong contrast with this graceful Italian conception is 
the German " Coronation " of the Wallerstein collection. 2 It 
is supposed to have been painted for Philip the Good, duke of 
Burgundy, either by Hans Memling, or a painter not inferior 
to him. Here the Virgin is crowned by the Trinity. She 
kneels, with an air of majestic humility, and hands meekly 
folded on her bosom, attired in simple blue drapery, before 
a semicircular throne, on which are seated the Father and the 
Son, between them, with outspread wings touching their 
mouths, the Holy Dove. The Father, a venerable figure, 
wears the triple tiara, and holds the sceptre : Christ, with an 
expression of suffering, holds in his left hand a crystal cross ; 
and they sustain between them a crown which they are about 
to place on the head of the Virgin. Their golden throne is 
adorned with gems, and over it is a glory of seraphim, with 
hair, faces, and plumage, all of a glowing red. The lower part 
of this picture and the compartments on each side are filled 
with a vast assemblage of saints, and martyrs, and holy con- 
fessors ; conspicuous among them we find the saints most pop- 
ular in Flanders and Burgundy — St. Adrian, St. George, St. 
Sebastian, St. Maurice, clad in coats of mail and crowned with 
laurel, with other kingly and warlike personages ; St. Philip, 
the patron of Philip the Good ; St. Andrew, in whose honor 
he instituted the order of the Golden Fleece ; and a figure in 
a blue mantle with a ducal crown, one of the three kings of 
Cologne, is supposed to represent Duke Philip himself. It is 
impossible by any description to do justice to this wonderful 
picture, as remarkable for its elaborate workmanship, the mys- 

1 See Legends of the Monastic Orders, and Sacred and Legendary Art, for 
an account of all these personages. 

2 [Formerly in Kensington Palace, but now dispersed. \ 


ticism of the conception, the quaint elegance of the details, 
and portrait-like reality of the faces, as that of Angelico for 
its spiritual, tender, imaginative grace. 

There is a Coronation by Vivarini J (Academy, Venice), 
which may be said to comprise in itself a whole system of 
theology. It is one vast composition, not divided by compart- 
ments. In the centre is a magnificent carved throne sustained 
by six pillars, which stand on a lofty richly ornamented pedes- 
tal. On the throne are seated Christ and the Virgin ; he is 
crowned, and places with both hands a crown on her head. 
Between them hovers the celestial Dove, and above them is 
seen the Heavenly Father in likeness of the " Ancient of 
Days," who paternally lays a hand on the shoulder of each. 
Around his head, and over the throne, are the nine choirs of 
angels, in separate groups. First and nearest, hover the glow- 
ing seraphim and cherubim, winged, but otherwise formless. 
Above these, the Thrones, holding the globe of sovereignty ; 
to the right, the Dominations, Virtues, and Powers ; to the 
left, the Princedoms, Archangels, and Angels. Below these, 
on each side of the throne, the prophets and patriarchs of the 
Old Testament, holding each a scroll. Below these, the apos- 
tles on twelve thrones, six on each side, each holding the 
Gospel. Below these, on each side, the saints and martyrs. 
Below these, again, the virgins and holy women. Under the 
throne, in the space formed by the pillars, is seen a group of 
beautiful children (not angels), representing, I think, the mar- 
tyred Innocents. They bear the instruments of Christ's pas- 
sion — the cross, nails, spear, crown of thorns, etc. On the 
step below the pedestal, and immediately in front, are seated 
the Evangelists and doctors of the Church ; on the right St. 
Matthew and St. Luke, and behind them St. Ambrose and St. 
Augustine ; on the left St. Mark and St. John, and behind 
them St. Jerome and St. Gregory. Every part of this curious 
picture is painted with the utmost care and delicacy : the chil- 
dren are exquisite, and the heads, of which there are at least 
seventy without counting the angels, are finished like minia- 

1 [This picture is attributed by Crowe and Cavalcaselle to the two Muranese 
artists whose partnership is variously known as "Johannes et Antonius de 
Muriano," and "Johannes Alamaunus and Antonio da Muriano." It was 
probably painted for a Venetian church in 1440. See History of Painting in 
North Italy, vol. i. p. 21.] 


In a bas-relief over a door of the cathedral at Treves, the 
subject is very simply treated ; both Christ and the Virgin are 
standing, which is unusual, and behind each is an angel, also 
standing and holding a crown. 

Where not more than five or six saints are introduced as at- 
tendants and accessories, they are usually the patron saints of 
the locality or community, which may bo readily distinguished. 

1. In a Coronation by Sandro Botticelli, we find below, 
St. John the Evangelist, St. Augustine, St. John Gualberto, 
St. Bernardo Cardinale. It was painted for the Vallombrosian 
monks. (Academy, Florence.) 

2. In a very fine example by [Bidolfo] Ghirlandajo, St. 
Dominick and St. Peter Martyr are conspicuous : painted, of 
course, for the Dominicans. (Louvre, Paris.) 

3. In another, by Pinturicchio, St. Francis is a principal 
figure, with St. Bonaventura and St. Louis of Toulouse : 
painted for the Franciscans, or at least for a Franciscan pope, 
Sixtus IV. (Vatican, Home.) 

4. In another, by G-uido, the treatment differs from the 
early style. The Coronation above is small and seen as a 
vision ; the saints below, St. Bernard and St. Catherine, are 
life size. It was painted for a community of Bernardines, the 
monks of Monte Oliveto. (Bologna Gallery.) 

5. In a beautiful little altar-piece by Lorenzo di Credi, 1 the 
Virgin is kneeling above, while Christ, seated, places the crown 
on her head. A glory of red seraphim surround the two fig- 
ures. Below are the famous patron saints of Central Italy, 
St. Nicholas of Bari and St. Julian of Rimini, St. Barbara and 
St. Christina. The St. Francis and St. Anthony, in the pre- 
della, show it to have been painted for a Franciscan church or 
chapel, probably for the same church at Cestello for which 
Lorenzo painted the St. Julian and St. Nicholas now in the 
Louvre. [Collection of Lord Wantage. Vide Bedford's 
Sales, vol. i. p. 152.] 

The " Coronation of the Virgin " by Annibal Caracci is in 
a spirit altogether different, magnificently studied. 2 On high, 

1 Once in the collection of Mr. Rogers. Vide Sacred and Legendary Art, p. 

2 This was also in the collection of Mr. Rogers. [Sold in 1856. Vide Red- 
ford's Sales, vol. ii. p. 223.] 



upon a lofty throne which extends across the whole picture 
from side to side, the Virgin, a nohle majestic creature, in the 
true Caracci style, is seated in the midst as the principal figure, 
her hands folded on her boscm. On the right hand sits the 
Father, on the left the Son ; they hold a heavenly crown sur- 
mounted by stars above her head. The locality is the empyrean. 
The audience consists of angels only, who, circle within circle, 
filling the whole space, and melting into an abyss of light, 
chant hymns of rejoicing, and touch celestial instruments of 
music. This picture shows how deeply Annibal Caracci had 
studied Correggio, in the magical chiaroscuro, and the lofty but 
somewhat mannered grace of the figures. 

One of the latest examples I can point to is also one of the 
most simple and grand in conception. It is that by Velasquez 
(Madrid Gallery), the finest perhaps of the very few devo- 
tional subjects painted by him. We have here the three 
figures only, as large as life, filling the region of glory, without 
angels, witnesses, or accessories of any kind, except the small 
cherubim beneath ; and the symmetrical treatment gives to the 
whole a sort of sublime effect. But the heads have the air of 
portraits : Christ has a dark, earnest, altogether Spanish phy- 
siognomy ; the Virgin has dark hair ; and the Padre Eterno, 
with a long beard, has a bald head — a gross fault in taste and 
propriety ; because, though the loose beard and flowing white 
hair may serve to typify the "Ancient of Days," baldness 
expresses not merely age, but the infirmity of age. 

Rubens, also, painted a Coronation, with all his own lavish 
magnificence of style, for the Jesuits at Brussels. After the 
time of Velasquez and Rubens, the Immaculate Conception 
superseded the Coronation. 

To enter further into the endless variations of this charming 
and complex subject would lead us through all the schools of 
Art from Giotto to Guido. I have said enough to render it 
intelligible and interesting, and must content myself with one 
or two closing memoranda. 

1. The dress of the Virgin in a Coronation is generally 
splendid, too like the coronation robes of an earthly queen — 
it is a " raiment of needlework " — "a vesture of gold wrought 
about with divers colors " — generally blue, crimson, and white, 
adorned with gold, gems, and even ermine. In the Corona 


tion by Filippo Lippi, at Spoleto, she wears a white *ohe 
embroidered with golden suns. In a beautiful little Coro- 
nation in the Wallerstein collection she wears a white robe 
embroidered with suns and moons, the former red with golden 
rays, the latter blue with colored rays — perhaps in allusion 
to the text so often applied in reference to her, a "woman 
clothed with the s?m," etc. (Rev. xii. 1, or Cant. vi. 10). 

2. In the set of cartoons for the tapestries of the Sistine 
Chapel, 1 as originally prepared by Raphael, we have the 
foundation, the heaven-bestowed powers, the trials and suffer- 
ings of the early Church, exhibited in the calling of St. Peter, 
the conversion of St. Paul, the acts and miracles of the apos- 
tles, the martyrdom of St. Stephen ; and the series closed with 
the Coronation of the Virgin, placed over the altar, as typical 
of the final triumph of the Church, the completion and ful- 
filment of all the promises made to man, set forth in the exal- 
tation and union of the mortal with the immortal, when the 
human Mother and her divine Son are reunited and seated on 
the same throne. Raphael placed on one side of the celestial 
group St. John the Baptist, representing sanctification through 
the rite of baptism ; and on the other, St. Jerome, the general 
symbol of sanctification through faith and repentance. The 
cartoon of this grand symbolical composition, in which all the 
figures were colossal, is unhappily lost ; the tapestry is missing 
from the Vatican collection ; 2 two old engravings, however, 
exist, from which some idea may be formed of the original 
group. (Passavant's Rafael, vol. ii. p. 258 [Ger. ed. ; p. 172, 
Eng. ed.].) 

3. It will be interesting to remember that the earliest 
existing impression taken from an engraved metal plate is a 
"Coronation of the Virgin." Maso Finiguerra, a skilful gold- 
smith and worker in niello, living at Florence in 1434, was 
employed to execute a pyx (the small casket in which the con- 
secrated wafer of the sacrament is deposited), and he decorated 
it with a representation of the Coronation in presence of saints 

1 [Vide Layard's Revision of Kugler's Handbook, vol. ii. p. 504; Crowe and 
Cavalcaselle's Life of Raphael, vol. ii. p. 461.] 

2 [The Coronation of the Virgin was discovered in the Vatican in 1869 by 
M. Paliard, and is now in the Gallery of Tapestry (See Gazette des Beaux Arts, 
1873, t. ii. p. 82). Raphael's original sketch for the design is preserved in the 
Museum at Oxford. For facsimile see p. 477 of Raphael, by Eugene Miintz.] 

l' incoronata 


Coronation (Hans Holbein the Elder) 

and angels, in all about thirty figures, minutely and exquisitely 
engraved on the silver face. Whether Finiguerra was the first 
worker in niello to whom it occurred to fill up the lines cut 
in the silver with a black fluid, and then, by laying it on a 
piece of damp paper and forcibly rubbing it, take off the fac- 
simile of his design and try its effects before the final process 
— this we cannot ascertain ; we only know that the impres- 
sion of his Coronation is the earliest specimen known to exist, 
and gave rise to the practice of cutting designs on plates of 
copper (instead of silver), for the purpose of multiplying im- 
pressions of them. The pyx, finished by Maso in 1452, is now 
in the Florence Gallery in the " Salle des Bronzes." The 


invaluable print, first of its species, exists in the National 
Library at Paris. There is a very exact facsimile of it in 
Ottley's " History of Engraving" [vol. i. p. 304]. Christ 
and the Virgin are here seated together on a lofty architectural 
throne : her hands are crossed on her bosom, and she bends 
her meek veiled head to receive the crown, which her Son, who 
wears a triple tiara, places on her brow. The saints most con- 
spicuous are St. John the Baptist, patron of Florence and of 
the church for which the pyx was executed, and a female saint, 
I believe St. Reparata, both standing; kneeling in front are 
St. Cosmo and St. Damian, the patrons of the Medici family, 
then paramount at Florence. (See Sacred and Legendary 
Art, p. 426.) 

4. In an illuminated " Office of the Virgin " I found a ver- 
sion of this subject which must be rare, and probably confined 
to miniatures. Christ is seated on a throne, and the Virgin 
kneels before him ; he bends forward, and tenderly takes her 
clasped hands in both . his own. An empty throne is at the 
right hand of Christ, over which hovers an angel bearing a 
crown. This is the moment which precedes the Coronation, 
as the group already described in the S. Maria-in-Trastevere 
exhibits the moment which follows the Coronation. 

5. Finally, we must bear in mind that those effigies in which 
the Madonna is holding her Child, while angels place a crown 
upon her head, do not represent the Coronation properly so 
called, but merely the Virgin honored as Mother of Christ and 
Queen of Heaven {Mater Christi, Regina Cosli) ; and that 
those representations of the Coronation which conclude a series 
of the life of the Virgin, and surmount her death-bed or her 
tomb, are historical and dramatic rather than devotional and 
typical. Of this historical treatment there are beautiful ex- 
amples from Cimabue down to Raphael, which will be noticed 
hereafter in their proper place. 


The Virgin of Mercy 

Our Lady of Succor. Ital. La Madonna di Misericordia. Fr. 
Notre Dame de Misericorde. Ger. Maria Matter des Erbarmens. 
Sp. Nuestra Sefiora de Gracia. 

When once the Virgin had been exalted and glorified in the 
celestial paradise, the next and the most natural result was, 
that she should be regarded as being in heaven the most pow- 
erful of intercessors, and on earth a most benign and ever- 
present protectress. In the mediaeval idea of Christ there 
was often something stern ; the Lamb of God who died for 
the sins of the world is also the inexorable Judge of the quick 
and the dead. When he shows his wounds, it is as if a vin- 
dictive feeling was supposed to exist ; as if he were called upon 
to remember in judgment the agonies and the degradation to 
which he had been exposed below for the sake of wicked, 
ungrateful men. In a Greek " Day of Judgment," cited by 
Didron, Moses holds up a scroll, on which is written, " Behold 
him whom ye crucified," while the Jews are dragged into ever- 
lasting fire. Everywhere is the sentiment of vengeance ; Christ 
himself is less a judge than an avenger. Not so the Virgin ; 
she is represented as all mercy, sympathy, and benignity. In 
some of the old pictures of the Day of Judgment she is seated 
by the side of Christ, on an equality with him, and often in 
an attitude of deprecation, as if abjuring him to relent ; or her 
eyes are turned on the redeemed souls, and she looks away from 
the condemned as if unable to endure the sight of their doom. 
In other •pictures she is lower than Christ, but always on his 
right hand, and generally seated ; while St. John the Baptist, 
who is usually placed opposite to her on the left of Christ, 
invariably stands or kneels. Instead of the Baptist, it is some- 
times, but rarely, John the Evangelist, who is the pendant of 
the Virgin. 

In the Greek representations of the Last Judgment, a river 
of fire flows from under the throne of Christ to devour and 
burn up the wicked. 1 In Western art the idea is less formid- 
able — Christ is not at once judge and executioner; but the 
sentiment is always sufficiently terrible ; " the angels and all 

1 Didron, Iconographie Chretienne ; and in the mosaic of the Last Judgment, 
executed by Byzantine artists, in the cathedral at Torcello. 



the powers of heaven tremble before him." In the midst of 
these terrors, the Virgin, whether kneeling, or seated, or stand- 

ing, always appears as a gentle mediator, a supplicant for 
mercy. In the "Day of Judgment," as represented in the 
" Hortus Deliciarum," 1 we read inscribed under her figure the 
words, " Maria Filio suo pro Ecclesia supplicat." In a very 
fine picture by Martin Schoen (Schleissheim Gallery), it is the 

The Virgin and Christ from the Last Judgment (attributed to Orcagna) 

Father who, with a sword and three javelins in his hand, sits 
as the avenging judge ; near him Christ ; while the Virgin 
stands in the foreground, looking up to her Son with an ex- 
pression of tender supplication, and interceding, as it appears, 
for the sinners kneeling round her, and whose imploring looks 
are directed to her. In the well-known fresco 2 [of the Last 

1 A celebrated illuminated MS. (date about 1159 to 1175), preserved in the 
Library at Strasburg. 

2 [Formerly attributed to Orcagna, but assigned by late authorities to Nardo 
Daddi. Vide Layard's Revision of Kugler's Handbook, vol. i. p. 111.] 


Judgment] in the Campo Santo, Pisa, Christ and the Virgin 
sit throned above, each in a separate aureole, but equally glori- 
fied. Christ, pointing with one hand to the wound in his side, 
raises the other in a threatening attitude, and his attention is 
directed to the wicked, whom he hurls into perdition. The 
Virgin, with one hand pressed to her bosom, looks to him with 
an air of supplication. Both figures are regally attired, and 
wear radiant crowns ; and the twelve apostles attend them, 
seated on each side. 

In the centre group of Michael Angelo's Last Judgment 
[Sistine Chapel, Eome] we have the same leading motif, but 
treated in a very different feeling. Christ stands before us in 
figure and mien like a half-naked athlete ; his left hand re- 
jects, his right hand threatens, and his whole attitude is as 
utterly devoid of dignity as of grace. I have often wondered, 
as I have looked at this grand and celebrated work, what could 
be Michael Angelo's idea of Christ. He who was so good, 
so religious, so pure-minded, and so high-minded, was deficient 
in humility and sympathy ; if his morals escaped, his imagina- 
tion was corrupted by the profane and pagan influences of his 
time. His conception of Christ is here most unchristian, and 
his conception of the Virgin is not much better. She is grand 
in form, but the expression is too passive. She looks down 
and seems to shrink ; but the significance of the attitude — 
the hand pressed to the maternal bosom — given to her by the 
old painters, is lost. 

In a Last Judgment by Rubens, painted for the Jesuits 
of Brussels (Brussels, Muse'e), the Virgin extends her robe 
over the world, as if to shield mankind from the wrath of her 
Son ; pointing, at the same time, significantly to her bosom, 
whence he derived his earthly life. The daring bad taste and 
the dramatic power of this representation are characteristic 
alike of the painter, the time, and the community for which 
the picture was painted. 

More beautiful and more acceptable to our feelings are those 
graceful representations of the Virgin as dispenser of mercy on 
earth ; 1 as protectress and patroness either of all Christendom, 

1 [To this class of pictures belongs Bouguereau's Vierge Oonsolatrice (1887), 
in the Luxembourg, Paris. A young mother has laid her dead babe at the feet 




La Madonna di Misericordia (Bas-relief, thirteenth century) 

or of some particular locality, country, or community. In 
such pictures she stands with outstretched arms, crowned with 
a diadem, or in some instances simply veiled ; her ample robe, 
extended on each side, is held up by angels, while under its 
protecting folds are gathered worshippers and votaries of all 

of the Madonna, and throws herself in anguish across the Holy Mother's knees. 
The Virgin's face is lifted heavenward with an expression of great tenderness 
and pity. Vide Stranahan's History of French Painting, p. 404.] 



La Madonna di Misericordia (Piero della Francesca) 

ranks and ages — men, women, children — kings, nobles, ec- 
clesiastics — the poor, the lame, the sick. Or if the picture 
be less universal in its significance, dedicated perhaps by some 
religious order or charitable brotherhood, we see beneath her 
robe an assemblage of monks and nuns, or a troop of young 
orphans or redeemed prisoners. Such a representation is styled 
a Misericordia. 

1. In a picture by Fra Filippo Lippi (Berlin Gallery), the 


Madonna of Mercy extends her protecting mantle over thirty- 
five kneeling figures, the faces like portraits, none elevated 
or beautiful, but the whole picture as an example of the subject 
most striking. 

2. This majestic figure [p. 88] is from a bas-relief at Venice 
[thirteenth century] placed over the entrance of the Scuola 
(or brotherhood) of Charity. The members of the community 
are here gathered under the robe of their patroness. 

3. This singular figure [p. 89],. which looks like that of an 
Indian goddess, is from a Misericordia painted by Piero della 
Francesca for the hospital of Borgo San Sepolcro, in the Apen- 

4. A very beautiful and singular representation of the Vir- 
gin of Mercy without the Child, I found in the collection of 
Herr v. Quandt of Dresden. She stands with hands folded 
over her bosom, and wrapped in ample white drapery, without 
ornament of any kind ; over her head, a veil of transparent 
gauze of a brown color, such as, from various portraits of the 
time, appears to have been then a fashion. The expression of 
the face is tender and contemplative, almost sad ; and the 
whole figure, which is life size, is inexpressibly refined and 
dignified. The following inscription is on the dark back- 
ground to the right of the Virgin : — 

Beat^e Marine Virginis 


Mens. August, mioxxxiii. 


mlraculor. operatione 

Concursu Pop. 


This beautiful picture was brought from Brescia to Vienna 
by a picture-dealer, and purchased by Herr v. Quandt. It was. 
painted by Moretto of Brescia, of whom Lanzi truly says that 
his sacred subjects express la compunzione, la pieta, la carita 
istessa ; and this picture is an instance. But by whom dedi- 
cated, for what especial mercy, or in what church, I could not 
ascertain. 1 I possess a charming drawing of the head by Frau- 

1 [This picture, which since Herr v. Quandt's death, has been in the Dresden 
Gallery, is pronounced by Morelli, and after him by Dr. Woermann, a feeble 
copy of the original painting at Paitone. Mrs. Jameson's rendering of the in- 



lein Louise Seidler of Weimar, whose feeling for early reli- 
gious Art is shown in her own works, as well as in the beau- 
tiful copies she has made of others. 

It is seldom that the Madonna di Miscricordia appears with- 
out the Child in her arms; her maternity is supposed to be 
one element in her sympathy with suffering humanity. I will 
add, however, to the examples already given, one very cele- 
brated instance. 

The picture entitled the " Misericordia di Lucca " is famous 
in the history of Art. [Lucca Gallery.] It is the most impor- 
tant work of Fra Bartolommeo, and is dated 1515, two years 
before his death. The Virgin, a grand and beautiful figure, 
stands alone on a raised platform, with her arms extended, and 
looking up to heaven. The ample folds of her robe are held 
open by two angels. Beneath and round her feet are various 
groups in attitudes of supplication, who look up to her, as she 
looks up to heaven. On one side the donor of the picture is 
presented by St. Dominick. Above, in a glory, is the figure 
of Christ surrounded by angels, and seeming to bend towards 
his Mother. The expression in the heads, the dignified benefi- 
cence of the Virgin, the dramatic feeling in the groups, particu- 
larly the women and children, justify the fame of this picture 
as one of the greatest of the productions of mind. 1 

There is yet another version of this subject which deserves 
notice from the fantastic grace of the conception. As in early 
Christian Art our Saviour was frequently portrayed as the 
Good Shepherd, so, among the later Spanish fancies, we find 
his Mother represented as the Divine Shepherdess. In a pic- 
ture painted by Alonzo Miguel de Tobar, about the beginning 

seription omits an important line which furnishes the explanation of the pic- 
ture. The full reading is: "Imago Beata? Maria Virg. Qua 1 Mens. August. xxxiii. Caitoni Agri Brixani. Pago Apparuit Miraculor. Operatione 
Concursu Pop. Celeberrim." From this it is inferred that the subject is the Ma- 
donna appearing during the plague of 1533 to a shepherd boy (Filippo Viotti) of 
Monte Paitone in Brescia. Vide Morelli, Critical Studies of Italian Painters, 
vol. ii. p. 226; also Woermann's Catalogue of the Dresden Gallery, 1892.] 

1 According to the account in Murray's Handbook, this picture was dedicated 
by the noble family of Montecanini, and represents the Virgin interceding for 
the Lucchesi during the wars with Florence. But I confess I am doubtful of 
this interpretation, and rather think it refers to the pestilence which, about 
1512, desolated the whole of the north of Italy. Wilkie, who saw this picture 
in 1825, speaks of the workmanship with the enthusiasm of a workman. 


of the eighteenth century, we find the Virgin Mary seated 
under a tree, in guise of an Arcadian pastorella, wearing a 
broad-brimmed hat, encircled by a glory, a crook in her hand, 
while she feeds her flock with the mystical roses. The beauty 
of expression in the head of the Virgin is such as almost to 
redeem the quaintness of the religious conceit ; the whole 
picture is described as worthy of Murillo. It was painted for 
a Franciscan church at Madrid, and the idea became so popular, 
that we rind it multiplied and varied in French and German 
prints of the last century ; the original picture remains un- 
equalled for its pensive poetical grace ; but it must be allowed 
that the idea, which at first view strikes from its singularity, 
is worse than questionable in point of taste, and will hardly 
bear repetition. 1 

There are some ex-voto pictures of the Madonna of Mercy, 
which record individual acts of gratitude. One, for instance, 
by Niccolo Alunno (Rome, Pal. Colonna), in which the Virgin, 
a benign and dignified creature, stretches forth her sceptre 
from above, and rebukes the ugly fiend of Sin, about to seize 
a boy. The mother kneels on one side, with eyes uplifted, in 
faith and trembling supplication. The same idea I have seen 
repeated in a picture by Lanfranco. 

The innumerable votive pictures which represent the Ma- 
donna di Misericordia with the Child in her arms, I shall 
notice hereafter. They are in Catholic countries the usual 
ornaments of charitable institutions and convents of the Order 
of Mercy ; and have, as I cannot but think, a very touching 

The Mater Dolorosa 

Ital. La Madre di Dolore. L'Addolorata. Fr. Notre Dame de 
Pitie. La Vierge de Douleur. Spa. Nuestra Sefiora de Dolores. 
Ger. Die schmerzhafte Mutter. 

One of the most important of the devotional subjects proper 
to the Madonna is the " Mourning Mother," the Mater Dolo- 
rosa, in which her character is that the mother of the crucified 
Redeemer ; the mother of the atoning Sacrifice ; the queen of 
martyrs ; the woman whose bosom was pierced with a sharp 

1 [The picture is referred by Mrs. Jameson, also by Stirling-Maxwell, to the 
Madrid Gallery, but the Prado catalogue of 1893 does not mention it under the 
name of Alonzo Miguel de Tobar.] 




whose sorrow the world was saved, whoso 
joy, and to whom the Roman Catholic Chris- 

the alllicted, because 


anguish was our 

tians address their prayers as consoler of 

she* had herself tasted of the bitterest of all earthly sorrow, the 

pang of the agonized mother for the loss of her child. 

In this character we have three distinct representations of 
the Madonna. 

Mater Dolorosa. In the first she appears alone, a seated 
or standing figure, often the head or half length only ; the 
hands clasped, the head bowed in sor- 
row, tears streaming from the heavy 
eyes, and the whole expression in- 
tensely mournful. The features are 
properly those of a woman in middle 
age ; but in later times the sentiment 
of beauty predominated over that of 
the mother's agony ; and I have seen 
the sublime Mater Dolorosa trans- 
formed into a merely beautiful and 
youthful maiden, with such an air of 
sentimental grief as might serve for 
the loss of a sparrow. 

Not so with the older heads; even 
those of the Caracci and the Spanish 
schools have often a wonderful depth 
of feeling. 

It is common in such representations 
to represent the Virgin with a sword 
in her bosom, and even with seven 
swords, in allusion to the seven sor- 
rows. This very material and palpa- 
ble version of the allegorical prophecy 
(Luke ii. 35) has been found extremely 
effective as an appeal to the popular 

feelings, so that there are few Roman Catholic churches without 
such a painful and literal interpretation of the text. It occurs 
perpetually in prints, and there is a fine example after Yandyck ; 
sometimes the swords are placed round her head ; but there is 
no instance of such a figure from the best period of religious 
Art, and it must be considered as anything but artistic : in this 
case, the more materialized and the more matter-of-fact, the 
more unreal, 

Stabat Mater (Angelico) 


Stabat Mater. A second representation of the Madre di 
Dolore is that figure of the Virgin which, from the very earliest 
times, was placed on the right of the Crucifix, St. John the 
Evangelist being invariably on the left. I am speaking here 
of the crucifix as a wholly ideal and mystical emblem of our 
faith in a crucified Saviour ; not of the crucifixion as an 
event, in which the Virgin is an actor and spectator, and is 
usually fainting in the arms of her attendants. In the ideal 
subject she is merely an ideal figure, at once the mother of 
Christ and the personified Church. This, I think, is evident 
from those very ancient carvings, and examples in stained 
glass, in which the Virgin, as the Church, stands on one side 
of the cross, trampling on a female figure which personifies 
Judaism or the synagogue. Even when the allegory is less 
palpable, we feel that the treatment is wholly religious and 

The usual attitude of the Mater Dolorosa by the crucifix 
is that of intense but resigned sorrow ; the hands clasped, the 
head declined and shaded by a veil, the figure closely wrapped 
in a dark blue or violet mantle. In some instances a more 
generally religious and ideal cast is given to the figure ; she 
stands with outspread arms, and looking up ; not weeping, but 
in her still beautiful face a mingled expression of faith and an- 
guish. This is the true conception of the sublime hymn, 

Stabat Mater Dolorosa 
Juxta crucem lachrymosa 
Dum pendebat filius. 

In the sketch after Philippe de Champaigne she is not 
standing, but seated at the foot of the cross. The original 
picture deserves its celebrity ; it is very fine and solemn. 

La Pieta. The third, and it is the most important and 
most beautiful of all so far as the Virgin is concerned, is the 
group called the Pieta, which, when strictly devotional, con- 
sists only of the Virgin with her dead Son in her arms, or 
on her lap, or lying at her feet ; in some instances with lament- 
ing angels, but no other personages. This group has been 
varied in a thousand ways ; no doubt the two most perfect 
conceptions are those of Michael Angelo and Raphael ; the 
first excelling in sublimity, the latter in pathos. The cele- 
brated marble group by Michael Angelo stands in St. Peter's 
in a chapel to the right as we enter. The Virgin is seated ; 



Mater Dolorosa (P. de Champaigne) 

the dead Saviour lies across the knees of his mother ; she looks 
down on him in mingled sorrow and resignation, but the majestic 
resignation predominates. The composition of Raphael exists 
only as a print ; 1 but the flimsy paper, consecrated through 
its unspeakable beauty, is likely to be as lasting as the mar- 
ble. It represents the Virgin standing with outstretched arms, 
and looking up with an appealing agonized expression towards 
heaven ; before her, on the earth, lies extended the form of 
the Saviour. In tenderness, dignity, simplicity, and tragic 
pathos, nothing can exceed this production ; the head of the 
Virgin in particular is regarded as a masterpiece, so far exceed- 
ing in delicacy of execution every other work of Marc An- 
tonio, that some have thought that Raphael himself took the 
burin from his hand, and touched himself that face of quiet 

Another example of wonderful beauty is the Pieta by Fran- 
cia, in our National Gallery. The form of Christ lies ex- 

1 [The drawing by Raphael is in the Louvre, and is reproduced in the work 
on Raphael by Eugene Miintz.} 



tended before his mother ; a lamenting angel sustains the head, 
another is at the feet ; the Virgin, with eyes red and heavy 
with weeping, looks out of the picture. There needs no visi- 
ble sword in her bosom to tell what anguish has pierced that 
maternal heart. 

There is another Pieta, by Michael Angelo, quite a different 
conception. The Virgin sits at the foot of the cross ; before 
her, and half sustained by her knees, lies the form oi the dead 
Saviour, seen in front ; his arms are held up by two angels 

Pieta (Michael Angelo) 

(un winged, as is usual with Michael Angelo). The Virgin 
looks up to heaven with an appealing expression ; and in one 
engraving of this composition the cross is inscribed with the 
words, " Tu non pensi quanto sangue costa." There is no 
painting by Michael Angelo himself, but many copies and en- 
gravings of the drawing. A beautiful small copy, by Mar- 
cello Venusti, is in the Queen's Gallery. 

There is yet another version of the Pieta, quite mystical 
and devotional in its significance — but, to my feeling, more 



Pieta (Martin Schoen) 

painful and material than poetical. It is variously treated ; 
for example : 1. The dead Redeemer is seen half length within 
the tomb ; his hands are extended to show his wounds ; his 
eyes are closed, his head declined, his bleeding brow encircled 
by thorns. On one side is the Virgin, on the other St. 
John the Evangelist, in attitudes of profound grief and com- 
miseration. 2. The dead form, half emerging from the tomb, 


is sustained in the arms of the Mater Dolorosa. St. John the 
Evangelist on the other side. There are sometimes angels. 

The Pieta thus conceived as a purely religious and ideal im- 
personation of the atoning Sacrifice is commonly placed over 
the altar of the sacrament ; and in many altar-pieces it forms 
the centre of the predella, just in front where the mass is 
celebrated, or on the door of the tabernacle where the Host is 

When, with the Mater Dolorosa and St. John, Mary Magda- 
lene is introduced with her dishevelled hair, the group ceases 
to be properly a Pieta, and becomes a representation rather 
than a symbol. 

There are also examples of a yet more complex but still per- 
fectly ideal and devotional treatment, in which the Mourning 
Mother is attended by saints. 

A most celebrated instance of this treatment is the Pietk by 
Guido. (Bologna Gallery.) In the upper part of the com- 
position, the figure of the dead Redeemer lies extended on a 
white shroud ; behind him stands the Virgin-mother, with her 
eyes raised to heaven, and sad appealing face, touched with so 
divine a sorrow — so much of dignity in the midst of infinite 
anguish, that I know nothing finer in its way. Her hands 
are resignedly folded in each other, not raised, not clasped, but 
languidly drooping. An angel stands at the feet of Christ 
looking on with a tender adoring commiseration, another, at 
his head, turns away weeping. A kind of curtain divides this 
group from the lower part of the picture, where, assembled 
on a platform, stand or kneel the guardian saints of Bologna : 
in the centre, the benevolent St. Charles Borromeo, who just 
about that time had been canonized and added to the list 
of the patrons of Bologna by a decree of the senate ; on the 
right, St. Dominick and St. Petronius ; on the left, St. Procu- 
lus and St. Francis. ( Vide Legends of the Monastic Orders, 
and Sacred and Legendary Art.) These sainted personages look 
up as if adjuring the Virgin, even by her own deep anguish, 
to intercede for the city ; she is here at once our Lady of 
Pity, of Succor, and of Sorrow. This wonderful picture was 
dedicated, as an act of penance and piety, by the magistrates 
of Bologna, in 1616, and placed in their chapel in the church 
of the S. "Mendicanti," otherwise Maria della Pieta. It hung 


there for two centuries, for the consolation of the afflicted ; it 
is now placed in the Academy of Bologna for the admiration 
of connoisseurs. 

Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception 

Ital. La Madonna Purissima. Lat. Regina sine labe original] 
concepta. Spa. Nuestra seiiora sin peccado concepida. La con- 
cepcion. Fr. La Conception de la Vierge Mane. Ger. Das 
Geheimniss der unbefleckten Empfiingniss Maria. (Dec. 8.) 

The last and the latest subject in which the Virgin appears 
alone without the Child is that entitled the " Immaculate 
Conception of the Blessed Virgin ; " and sometimes merely 
" The Conception." There is no instance of its treatment 
in the earlier schools of Art ; but as one of the most popular 
subjects of the Italian and Spanish painters of the seven- 
teenth century, and one very frequently misunderstood, it is 
necessary to go into the history of its origin. 

In the early ages of Christianity, it was usual to celebrate, 
as festivals of the Church, the Conception of Jesus Christ, 
and the Conception of his kinsman and precursor, John the 
Baptist ; the latter as miraculous, the former as being at once 
divine and miraculous. In the e leventh century it was pro- 
posed to celejaratfl th P . Conception of the Vir gin-mother of _ the 


From the time that the heresy of Nestorius had been 
condemned, and that the dignity of the Virgin as Mother of 
the Divinity had become a point of doctrine, it was no t 
en ough to ajJEQcatfl hpr excelling virtue and stainless purity a s 
a mere human being. It was contended, that having been 
predestined from the beginning as the Woman through whom 
the divine nature was made manifest on earth, she must be 
pres umed to be exempt from all sin, even from that ori ginal 
taint inherited from Adam. Through T17p fircf F.vp ; wp had 
"alljjj fied: ; through the second Eve, we ha d all been " made 
aliyeZL-— Xt was argued that God had never suffered his earthly 
temple to be profaned; had even promulgated in person 
severe ordinances to preserve its sanctuary inviolate. How 
much more to him was that temple, that tabernacle built by 
no human hands, in which he had condescended to dwell ! 
Nothing was impossible to God ; it lay, therefore, in his power 


to cause his Mother to come absolutely pure and immaculate 
into the world : being in his power, could any earnest wor- 
shipper of the Virgin doubt for a moment that for one so 
favored it would not be done ? Such was the reasoning of 
our forefathers ; and, the premises granted, who shall call it 
illogical or irreverent ? 

For three or four centuries, from the seventh to the elev- 
enth, these ideas had been gaining ground. St. Ildefonso of 
Seville distinguished himself by his writings on the subject ; 
and how the Virgin recompensed his zeal, Murillo has shown 
us, and I have related in the life of that saint. (Legends 
of the Monastic Orders, p. 56.) But the first mention of a 
festival, or solemn celebration of the Mystery of the Immacu- 
late Conception, may be traced to an English monk of the 
eleventh century, whose name is not recorded. ( Vide Baillet.) 
When, however, it was proposed to give the papal sanction to 
this doctrine as an article of belief, and to institute a church 
office for the purpose of celebrating the Conception of Mary, 
there arose strong opposition. What is singular, St. Ber- 
nard, so celebrated for his enthusiastic devotion to the Virgin, 
was most strenuous and eloquent in his disapprobation. He 
pronounced no judgment against those who received the doc- 
trine of the Immaculate Conception, he rather leaned towards 
it ; but he opposed the institution of the festival as an inno- 
vation not countenanced by the early fathers of the Church. 
After the death of St. Bernard, for about a hundred years the 
dispute slept ; but the doctrine gained ground. The thirteenth 
century, so remarkable for the manifestation of religious en- 
thusiasm in all its forms, beheld the revival of this celebrated 
controversy. A certain Franciscan friar., "Dims ftp.of-. ns (John 
Scott of Dunse), entered the lists as champion for the Virgin. 
He was opposed by the Dominicans and their celebrated po- 
lemic, Thomas Aquinas, who, like St. Bernard, was known for 
his enthusiastic reverence for the Virgin ; but, like him, and 
on the same grounds, objected to the introduction of new 
forms. Thus the theological schools were divided. 

During the next two hundred years the belief became more 
and more general, the doctrine more and more popular ; still 
the Church, while it tolerated both, refused to ratify either. 
All this time we find no particular representation of the 
favorite dogma in Art, for until ratified by the authority of the 


Church, it could not properly enter into ecclesiastical decora- 
tion. We find, however, that the growing belief in the pure 
Conception and miraculous sanctification of the Virgin multi- 
plied the representations of her coronation and glorification, as 
the only permitted expression of the popular enthusiasm on 
this point. For the powerful Order of the Franciscans, who 
were at this time and for a century afterwards the most ardent 
champions of the Immaculate Conception, were painted most 
of the pictures of the Coronation produced during the four- 
teenth century. 

The first papal decree touching the Immaculate Conception 
as an article of faith was promulgated in the reign of Sixtus 
IV., who had been a Franciscan friar, and he took the earliest 
opportunity of giving the solemn sanction of the Church to 
what had ever been the favorite dogma of his Order ; but 
the celebration of the festival, never actually forbidden, had 
by this time become so usual, that the papal ordinance merely 
sanctioned without, however, rendering it obligatory. An office 
was composed for the festival, and in 1496 the Sorbonne de- 
clared in favor of it. Still it remained a point of dispute ; 
still there were dissentient voices, principally among the Do- 
minican theologians; and from 1500 to 1600 we find this 
controversy occupying the pens of the ecclesiastics, and excit- 
ing the interest and the imagination of the people. In Spai n 
the Immaculate Conception of the Vir gin, owing perhaps to 
the popularity~and power oi tne Franciscans in that co untry, 
had long been " the darling dogma of the Spanish Church." 
Villegas, in the "Flos Sanctorum," while admitting the mod- 
ern origin of the opinion, and the silence of the Church, con- 
tended that, had this great fact been made manifest earlier and 
in less enlightened times, it might possibly have led to the 
error of worshipping the Virgin as an actual goddess. (Stir- 
ling-Maxwell's Annals of the Artists of Spain, vol. iii. p. 1074). 
To those' who are conversant with Spanish theology and art, it 
may seem that the distinction drawn in theory is not very 
definite or perceptible in practice. 

At length, in July, 1615, Paul V. formally instituted the 
office commemorating the Immaculate Conception, and in 1617 
issued a bull forbidding any one to teach or preach a contrary 
opinion. " On the publication of this bull, Seville flew into a 
frenzy of religious joy." The archbishop performed a solemn 



service in the cathedral. Cannon roared, and bull-fights, tourna- 
ments, and banquets celebrated this triumph of the votaries of 
the Virgin. Spain and its dependencies were solemnly placed 
under the protection of the Immaculate Conception, thus per- 
sonifying an abstract idea ; and to this day a Spaniard salutes 
his neighbor with the angelic " Av^Mnrin pmjgjmaJ " and he 
responds " Sin peccado concepida ! " 1 

I cannot find the date of the earliest picture of the Immacu- 
late Conception ; but the first writer on the art who makes 
allusion to the subject, and lays down specific rules from eccle- 
siastical authority for its proper treatment, is the Spaniard 
Par.hp.flOj who must have been about forty years of age when 
the bull was published at Seville in 1618. It is soon after 
this time that we first hear of pictures of the Immaculate Con- 
ception. Pacheco subsequently became a familiar of the Inqui- 
sition, and wielded the authority of the holy office as inspector 
of sacred pictures ; and in his " Arte de la Pintura, " published 
in 1 649, he la i d down tho se rules for th e representation w hich 
had bee n generally. thoughnoT'ai'Wa ys, exactly followed. 

It is evident that the idea is taken from the woman in the 
Apocalypse, " ck>thejLwiih_.ihe- sun, having the moon under 
herfeet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars." The Vir- 
gin is to be portrayed in the first spring and bloom of youth 
as~a maiden of about twelve or thirteen years of age ; with 
" grave sweet eyes ; 7> her hair golden ; her features "with all 
the beauty painting can express ; " her hands are t o be folded 
on her bo som or jo i ned in prayer. The sun is to be expressed 
by a flood of light around her. The moon underlie^ feet is 
to have""tlie - Tiofns" pointing _downwards7Hbecause illuminated 
from above, ancTthe twelve stars are to form a crown over her 
head. The robe must be of spotless white ; th e mantle o r 
s carf blu e. Round her are to hove r cherubim bearing roses, 
pal ms, and li l ies ; thej iead of the Fr uised and vanquished dra gon 
is to be under her fe et. She ought- *" ^^ *ne r nrrl ol St. j 
Francis as a girdle, because in this guise she appeared to Beatriz / 
de SiTva, a noble 'Franciscan nun, who was favored by a celes/ 

1 In our own days we have seen this curious controversy revived. One of the 
latest, if not the last, writer on the subject was Cardinal Lambruschini ; and 
the last papal ordinance was promulgated by Pio Nono, and dated from Gaeta, 


tial visu m of the Madonna in her beatitude. Perhaps the 
gOolTservices of the Franciscans as champions of the Immacu- 
late Conception procured them the honor of being thus com- 

All these accessories are not absolutely and rigidly required ; 
andJMurillo, who is entitled pa?' excelle nce the painter of the 
Conceplioji, sometimes departed from the letter of the law 
without being considered as less orthodox. With him the 
crescent moon is sometimes the full moon, or, when a crescent, 
the horns point upwards instead of downwards. He usually 
omits the starry crown, and, in spite of his predilection for the 
Capuchin Order, the cord of St. Francis is in most instances 
dispensed with. He is exact with regard to the colors of the 
drapery, but not always in the color of the hair. On the other 
hand, the beauty and expression of the face and attitude, the 
mingled lov eliness. dignity T and purity, are given with exqui- 
site feeling ; and we are never, as in his other representations 
of the Madonna, reminded of commonplace, homely, often 
peasant, portraiture ; here all is spotless grace, ethereal deli- 
cacy, benignity, refinement, repose — the very apotheosis of 

I must go back to observe, that previous to the promulga- 
tion of the famous bull of Pope Paul V., the popular ideas 
concerning the Immaculate Conception had left their impress 
on Art. Before the subject had taken an express and author- 
ized form, we find pictures which, if they do not represent it, 
relate to it. I remember two which cannot be otherwise inter- 
preted, and there are probably others. 

The first is a curious picture of the early Florentine school 
(Berlin Gallery). 1 In the centre is original sin, represented 
by Eve and the Serpent ; on the right stand St. Ambrose, St. 
Hilarius, St. Anselm, and St. Bernard ; on the left, St. Cyril, 
Origen, St. Augustine, and St. Cyprian ; and below are inscribed 
passages from the writings of these fathers, relating to the 
Immaculate Conception of the Virgin ; all of them had given 
to her in their works the title of Immaculate, most pure ; but 
they differed as to the period of her sanctification, as to whether 
it was in the moment of conception or at the moment of birth. 

The other picture is in the Dresden Gallery, and one of the 

1 [No picture of this description is catalogued to the Florentine school in the 
Berlin catalogue of 1891.] 


finest productions of that extraordinary Ferrarese painter, Dosso 
Dossi. In the lower part of the picture are the four Latin 
Fathers, turning over their great books, or in deep meditation ; 
behind them, the Franciscan Bernardino of Siena. (See Legends 
of the Monastic Orders, p. 304.) Above, in a glory of light, 
the Virgin, clothed, not in spotless white, but in a richly em- 
broidered regal mantle, " wrought about with divers colors," 
kneels at the feet of the Almighty, who extends his hand in 
benediction. I find no account in the catalogue whence this 
picture was taken, but it was evidently painted for the Fran- 
ciscans. 1 

In 1617, when the bull of Paul V. was formally expedited, 
Guido was attached to the papal court in quality of painter, 
and an especial favorite with his Holiness. Among the earliest 
accredited pictures of the Immaculate Conception are four of 
his finest works. 

1. The cupola of the private chapel of the Quirinal repre- 
sents the Almighty meditating the great miracle of the Immac- 
ulate Conception, and near him, within the same glory of light, 
is the Virgin in her white tunic, and in an attitude of adora- 
tion. This was painted about 1610 or 1611, when Pope Paul 
V. was meditating the promulgation of his famous ordinance. 

2. The great picture, also painted for Paul V., represents 
the doctors of the Church arguing and ' consulting their great 
books for the authorities on the subject of the Conception 
(St. Petersburg). 2 Above, the Virgin is seated in glory, ar- 
rayed in spotless white, her hands crossed over her bosom, 
and her eyes turned towards the celestial fountain of light. 
Below are six doctors, consulting their books ; they are not 
well characterized, being merely so many ideal heads in a man- 
nered style ; but I believe they represent the four Latin Fathers, 
with St. John Damascene and St. Ildefonso, who were especial 
defenders of the doctrine. 

3. The next in point of date was painted for the Infanta of 
Spain, which I believe to be the same now in the possession 
of Lord Ellesmere. The figure of the Virgin, crowned with 
the twelve stars, and relieved from a background of golden 
light, is standing on a crescent sustained by three cherubs be- 

1 [See illustration in Sacred and Legendary Art, p. 278.] 

2 There is a fine engraving. 


neath : she seems to float between heaven and earth ; on either 
side is a seraph, with hands folded and looks upraised in adora- 
tion. The whole painted in his silvery tone, with sneh an 
extreme delicacy and transparency of effect, that it might he 
styled, "a vision of the Immaculate Conception." 

4. The fourth was painted for the chapel of the Immaculate 
Conception, in the church of San Biagio at F01T1, and is there 

Just as the Italian schools of painting were on the decline, 
the Spanish school of art arose in all its glory, and the "jCdii- 
ception " became, from the popularity of the dogma, not merely 
an ecclesiastical, hut a popular subject . Not on ly eyery^ iuijah, 
but" almost every private hous e, contained the eiligy r - either 
pa inted or carved, or both, of our Lady, "sin peccado co n- 
c epida ;" and when the academy of painting was founded at 
Seville, in Ifi pO, every candidate for adm ission had to declare 
hi s ort hodox. bfth'pf j n the most pure C onception of our Lady. 

The finest Spanish Conception before the time of Murillo, 
is by Roelas, who died in 1625 ; it is in the Academy at Se- 
ville, and is mentioned by Mr. Ford as " equal to Guido." l 

One of the most beautiful and characteristic, as well as 
earliest, examples of this subject I have seen, is a picture in 
the Esterhazy Gallery at Vienna. The Virgin is in the first 
bloom of girlhood ; she looks not more than nine or ten years 
old, with dark hair, Spanish features, and a charming expres- 
sion of childlike simplicity and devotion. She stands amid 
clouds, with her hands joined, and the proper white and blue 
drapery : there are no accessories. This picture is attributed 
to an obscure painter, Lazaro Tavarone, of whom I can learn 
nothing more than that he was employed in the Escurial 
about 1590. 

The beautiful small Conception by Velasquez, in the posses- 
sion of Mr. [Bertie] Frere, is a departure from the rules 
laid down by Pacheco in regard to costume ; therefore, as I 
presume, painted before he entered the studio of the artist- 
inquisitor, whose son-in-law he became before he was three- 
and-twenty. Here the Virgin is arrayed in a pale violet robe, 
with a dark blue mantle. Her hands are joined, and she 

1 Handbook of Spain. A very fine picture of this subject, by Roelas, was 
sold out of the Soult collection. 


looks down. The solemnity and depth of expression in the 
sweet girlish face is very striking ; the more so, that it is not 
a beautiful face, and has the air of a portrait. Her long hair 
flows over her shoulders. The figure is relieved against a 
bright sun, with fleecy clouds around ; and the twelve stars 
are over her head. She stands on the round moon, of which 
the upper half is illumined. Below, on earth, and through the 
deep shadow, are seen several of the embl ems of the Vir gin — 
thftjjWptflirij t,hp. t,P.mp1p! 3 thp. nlivp ; t.Vip., and the j^arden 
inc losed jLn_a trpi'llage- of roses. ( Vide Introduction : The Sym- 
bols and Attributes of the Virgin.) This picture is very re- 
markable ; it is in the earliest manner of Velasquez, painted in 
the bold free style of his first master, Herrara, whose school he 
quitted when he was about seventeen or eighteen, just at the 
period when the Pope's ordinance was proclaimed at Seville. 

Of twejity-five -pictures of this subject, painted by Murillo, 
there are not two exactly alike ; and they are of all sizes, from 
the colossal figure called the " Great Conception of Seville," 
to the exquisite miniature representation in the possession of 
Lord Overston, not more than fifteen inches in height. Lord 
Lansdowne has also a beautiful small Conception, very simply 
treated. [Lansdowne House, London.] In those which have 
dark hair, Murillo is said to have taken his daughter, Fran- 
cisca, as a model. The number of attendant angels varies from 
one or two to thirty. They bear, the palm, the olive, the rose, 
the lily^the mirror ; sometimes a sceptre and crown. I remem- 
beTljuTfew instances in which he has introduced the dragon- 
fiend, an omission which Pacheco is willing to forgive ; " for," 
as he observes, " no man ever painted the devil with good will." 

In the Louvre picture, the Virgin is adored by three ecclesi- 
astics. In another example, quoted by Mr. Stirling, a, f riax is 
seen writing athe r feet : this figure probably represe nts her 
chlHnpionJthe friar Duns Scotus. There is at Hampton Court 
a }ncture71)y Spagnoletto, of this same Duns Scotus writing 
his defence of the Immaculate Conception. Spagnoletto was 
painting at Naples, when, in 1618, " the Viceroy solemnly 
swore, in presence of the assembled multitude, to defend with 
his life the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception ; " and this 
picture, curious and striking in its way, was painted about the 
same time. 




In Italy the decline of Art in the seventeenth century is 
nowhere more apparent, or more offensive, than in this subject. 
A finished example of the most execrable taste is the mosaic 
in St. Peter's, after Pietro Bianchi. There exists, somewhere, 
a picture of the Conception, by Le Bran, in which the Virgin 
has no other drapery than a thin 
transparent gauze, and has the air 
of a Venus Meretrix. In some old 
French prints the Virgin is sur- 
rounded by a number of angels, de- 
fending her with shield and buckler 
against demons who are taking aim 
at her with fiery arrows. Such, and 
even worse, vagaries and perversi- 
ties are to be found in the innumer- 
able pictures of this favorite subject 
which inundated the churches be- 
tween 1640 and 1720. Of these I 
shall say no more. The pictures of 
Guido and Murillo, and the carved 
figures of Alonzo Cano, Montanez, 
and Hernandez, may be regarded 
as authorized effigies of " Our Lady 
of the most pure Conception ; " in 
other words, as embodying, in the 
most attractive, decorous, and intel- 
ligible form, an abstract theological 
dogma, which is in itself one of the 
most curious, and, in its results, 
one of the most important of the 

religious phenomena connected with the artistic representations 
of the Virgin. 1 

We must be careful to discriminate between the Conception, 
so styled by ecclesiastical authority, and that singular and 

1 We often find on pictures and prints of the Immaculate Conception certain 
scriptural texts which the theologians of the Roman Church have applied to the 
Blessed Virgin; for instance, from Ps. xliv., "Omnis gloria ejus filiae regis ab 
intus," — "The king's daughter is all glorious within ;" or from the Canticles, 
iv. 7, "Tota pulchra es, arnica mea, et macula non est in te," — "Thou art all 
fair, my love; there is no spot in thee." I have also seen the texts Ps. xxii. 10, 
and Prow viii. 22, 23, xxxi. 20, thus applied, as well as other passages from the 
very poetical office of the Virgin, In Ftstv Immacukitie Cu7icej)(ionis. 

Immaculate Conception 


mystical representation which is sometimes called the "Pre- 
destination of Mary/' and sometimes the " Litanies of the 
Virgin." Collectors and writers on Art must bear in mind, 
that the former, as a subject, dates only from the beginning 
of the seventeenth century, the latter from the beginning of 
the sixteenth. Although, as representations, so very similar, 
yet the intention and meaning are different. In the Conception 
it is the sinless Virgi n, in h er personal character, who is held 
up to reverence as the purest, wisest^Tibliest of createcT beings. 
The earlier theme involves a yet more recondite signification. 
It is undoubtedly to be regarded as an attempt on the part of 
the artist to express, in a visible form, the idea or promise 
of the redemption of the human race, as existing in the Sover- 
eign Mind before the beginning of things. They do not per- 
sonify this idea under the image of Christ, — for they conceived 
that, as the second person of the Trinity, he could not be his 
own instrument, — but by the image of Mary surrounded by 
those attributes which were afterwards introduced into the 
* pictures of the Conception, or setting her foot, as second Eve, 
on the head of the prostrate serpent. Not seldom, in a series 
of subjects from the Old Testament, the pendant to. Eve 
holding-the apple is Mar3^_crushing the head of the fiend ; and 
thus the "bane and antidote are both before us." This is the 
proper interpretation of those effigies, so prevalent in every 
form of Art during the sixteenth century, and which are often, 
but erroneously, styled the Immaculate Conception. Those 
pictures which represent the Virgin Mary kneeling before the 
celestial throne, while the Padre Eterno or the Messiah 
extends his hand or his sceptre towards her, are generally mis- 
understood. They do not represent the Assumption, nor yet 
the reception of Mary in heaven, as is usually supposed ; but 
the election or predestination of Mary as the immaculate vehi- 
cle or tabernacle of human redemption, — the earthly parent of 
the divine Saviour. An example may be cited in a beautiful 
and celebrated picture by Francia, now in the church of San 
Frediano at Lucca. Above, in the glory of heaven, the Virgin 
kneels before the throne of the Creator ; she is clad in regal 
attire of purple and crimson and gold ; and she bends her fair 
crowned head, and folds her hands upon her bosom with an ex- 
pression of meek yet dignified resignation, — " Behold the hamb 
maid of the Lord ! " — accepting, as woman, that highest glory, 


as mother, that extremest grief, to which the divine will, as 
spoken by the prophets of old, had called her. Below, on the 
earth and to the right hand, stand David and Solomon, as 
prophets and kingly ancestors : on the left hand, St. Augustine 
and St. Anselm in their episcopal robes. (I have mentioned, 
with regard to the office in honor of the Immaculate Concep- 
tion, that the idea is said to have originated in England. I 
should also have added, that Anselm, archbishop of Canter- 
bury, was its strenuous advocate.) Each of these personages 
holds a scroll. On that of David the reference is to the fourth 
and fifth verses of Psalm xxvii. : " In the secret of his taber- 
nacle shall he hide me." On that of Solomon is the text from 
his Song, ch. iv. 7. On that of St. Augustine, a quotation, I 
presume, from his works, but difficult to make out ; it seems 
to be, " In ccelo qualisest Pater, talis est Filius ; qualis est 
Filius, talis est Mater." On that of St. Anselm the same 
inscription which is on the picture of Cotignola, " non puto 
vere esse," etc., which is, I suppose, taken from his works. In 
the centre, St. Anthony of Padua kneels beside the sepulchre 
full of lilies and roses, showing the picture to have been 
painted for, or under the influence of, the Franciscan Order ; 
and, like other pictures of the same class, " an attempt to ex- 
press in a visible form the idea or promise of the redemption 
of the human race, as existing in the Sovereign Eternal Mind 
before the beginning of the world." This altar-piece has no 
date, but appears to have been painted about the same time as 
the picture in our National Gallery, which came from the same 
church. As a work of Art it is most wonderfully beautiful. 
The editors of the last excellent edition of Vasari speak of it 
with just enthusiasm as " Opera veramente stupenda in ogni 
parte ! " The predella beneath, painted in chiaroscuro, is also 
of exquisite beauty ; and let us hope that we shall never see 
it separated from the great subject, like a page or a paragraph 
torn out of a book, by ignorant and childish collectors. 

The numerous heads of the Virgin which proceeded from 
the later schools of Italy and Spain, wherein she appears 
neither veiled nor crowned, but very young, and with flowing 
hair and white vesture, are intended to embody the popular 
idea of the Madonna jmrissima, of " the Virgin most pure, 
conceived without sin," in an abridged form. There is one by 
Murillo, in the collection of Mr. [Robert S.] Holford [Weston 
Birt, Tetbury, Gloucestershire]. 


Before quitting the subject of the Immaculate Conception, 
I must refer to a very curious picture called an Assumption, 
but certainly painted at least one hundred years before the 
Immaculate Conception was authorized as a church subject. 

From the year 1496, when Sixtus IV. promulgated his Bull, 
and the Sorbonne put forth their famous decree, — at a time 
when there was less of faith and religious feeling in Italy than 
ever before, — this abstract dogma became a sort of watchword 
with theological disputants ; not ecclesiastics only, the literati 
and the reigning powers took an interest in the controversy, 
and were arrayed on one side or the other. The Borgias, for 
instance, were opposed to it. Just at this period, the singular 
picture I allude to was painted by Girolamo da Cotignola. It 
is mentioned by Lanzi, but his account of it is not quite 
correct. ■ 

Above, in glory, is seen the Padre Eterno, surrounded by 
cherubim bearing a scroll, on which is inscribed, " Non enim 
pro te sed pro omnibus haec lex constitutura est." 1 Lower 
down, the Virgin stands on clouds, with hands joined, and at- 
tired in a white tunic embroidered with gold, a blue mantle 
lined with red, and, which is quite singular and unorthodox, 
black shoes. Below, on the earth, and to the right, stands a 
bishop, without a glory, holding a scroll on which is inscribed, 
"ISTon puto vere esse amatorem Virginis qui respuit celebrare 
Festum suae Conceptionis ; " on the left is St. Jerome. In 
the centre are three kneeling figures : on one side St. Catherine 
(or perhaps Caterina Sforza, in the character of St. Catherine, 
for the head looks like a portrait) ; on the other an elderly 
woman, Ginevra Tiepolo, widow of Giovanni Sforza, last prince 
of Pesaro ; 2 between them the little Costanzo Sforza, looking 
up with a charming devout expression. 3 Underneath is in- 

Exvoto mcccccxii." Giovanni Sforza had been dispossessed 
of his dominions by the Borgias, after his divorce from Lucrezia, 
and died in 1501. The Borgias ceased to reign in 1512 ; and 
Ginevra, apparently restored to her country, dedicated this 

1 From the Office of the Blessed Virgin. 

2 This Giovanni was the first husband of Lucrezia Borgia. 

3 Lanzi calls this child Costanzo II., prince of Pesaro. Very interesting 
memoirs of all the personages here referred to may be found in Mr. Dennistoun's 
Dukes of Urbino. 


picture, at once a memorial of her gratitude and of her faith. 
It remained over the high altar of the church of the Serviti, 
at Pesaro, till acquired by Mr. Solly, from whom it was pur- 
chased by Mr. Bromley. 1 [Sold from the Bromley collection 
in 1863 to the Marquis of Bath. Vide Bedford's Sales, vol. 
ii. p. 227.] 

1 Girolamo Marchesi da Cotignola was a painter of the Francis school, whose 
works date from about 1808 to 1550. Those of his pictures which I have seen 
are of very unequal merit, and, with much feeling and expression in the heads, 
are often mannered and fantastic as compositions. This agrees with what 
Vasari says, that his excellence lay in portraiture, for which reason he was sum- 
moned, after the battle of Ravenna, to paint the portrait of Gaston de Foix as he 
lay dead. (See Vasari, Vita di Bagnacavallo ; and in the English trans. [1851], 
vol. iii. p. 331.) The picture above described, which has a sort of historical in- 
terest, is perhaps the same mentioned in Murray's Handbook (Central Italy), as 
an enthroned Madonna, dated 1513, and as being in 1843 in its original place 
over the altar in the Serviti at Pesaro ; if so, it is there no longer. 



Lett. S'ancta Dei Genitrix. Virgo Deipara. Ital. La Santissima 
Vergine, Madre di Dio. Fr. La Sainte Vierge, Mere de Dieu. 
Ger. Die Heilige Mutter Gottes. 

The Virgin in her maternal character opens upon us so wide 
a field of illustration, that I scarce know where to begin or 
how to find my way amid the crowd of associations which 
press upon me. A mother holding her child in her arms is no 
very complex subject ; but like a very simple air constructed 
on a few expressive notes, which, when harmonized, is suscep- 
tible of a thousand modulations, and variations, and accom- 
paniments, while the original motif never loses its power to 
speak to the heart, so it is with the Madonna and Child 
— a subject so consecrated by its antiquity, so hallowed by its 
profound significance, so endeared by its associations with the 
softest and deepest of our human sympathies, that the mind 
has never wearied of its repetition, nor the eye become satiated 
with its beauty. Those who refuse to give it the honor due 
to a religious representation, yet regard it with a tender half- 
unwilling homage ; and when the glorified type of what is 
purest, loftiest, holiest in womanhood stands before us, arrayed 
in all the majesty and beauty that accomplished Art, inspired 
by faith and love, could lend her, and bearing her divine Son, 
rather enthroned than sustained on her maternal bosom, " we 
look, and the heart is in heaven ! " and it is difficult, very diffi- 
cult, to refrain from an Ova pro Nobis. But before we attempt 
to classify these lovely and popular effigies, in all their infinite 
variety, from the enthroned grandeur of the Queen of Heaven, 
the Sancta Dei Genitrix, down to the peasant mother swad- 
dling or suckling her infant, or to interpret the innumerable 
shades of significance conveyed by the attendant accessories, we 
must endeavor to trace the representation itself to its origin. 

This is difficult. There exists no proof, I believe, that the 
effigies of the Virgin with the infant Christ in her arms, which 
existed before the end of the fifth century, were placed before 
Christian worshippers as objects of veneration. They appear 
to have been merely groups representing a particular incident 


of the New Testament, namely, the adoration of the Magi ; for 
1 find no other in which the mot her ifi seated with the infant 
Christ, 1 and this is an historical Bubject of which we shall 
have to speak hereafter. From the, beginning of the fourth 
century, that is, from the time of Constantine and the con- 
demnation of Arius, the popular reverence for the Virgin, the 
Mother of Christ, had been gaining ground ; and at the same 
time the introduction of images and pictures into the places of 
worship and into the houses of Christians, as ornaments on 
glass vessels and even embroidered on garments and curtains, 
became more and more diffused. (Vide Neander's Church 

The earliest effigies of the Virgin and Child may be traced 
to Alexandria and to Egyptian influences; and it is as easily 
conceivable that the time-consecrated Egyptian myth of Isis 
and Horus may have suggested the original type, the outward 
form and the arrangement of the maternal group, as that the 
classical Greek types of the Orpheus and Apollo should have 
furnished the early symbols of the Redeemer as the Good 
Shepherd, — a fact which does not rest upon supposition, but 
of which the proofs remain to us in the antique Christian 
sculptures and the paintings in the catacombs. 

The most ancient Greek figures of the Virgin and Child have 
perished ; but, as far as I can learn, there is no evidence that 
these effigies were recognized by the Church as sacred before 
the beginning of the sixth century. It was the Nestorian 
schism which first gave to the group of the Mother bearing 
her divine Son that religious importance and significance which 
it has ever since retained in Catholic countries. 

The divinity of Christ and his miraculous conception, once 
established as articles of belief, naturally imparted to Mary, 
his mother, a dignity beyond that of other mothers : her Son 
was God; therefore the title of Mother of God was as- 
signed to her. When or by whom first brought into use does 
not appear ; but about the year 400 it became a popular 

1 [There is a single exception to this rule, if we accept the judgment of De 
Rossi, who dates almost as early as the apostolic age the painting in the ceme- 
tery of St. Priscilla representing the Virgin and Child with Isaiah. See Roma 
Sotterninea, by Northcote and Brownlow ; also Perate, Archceologie Chre- 



ISTestorius,- patriarch of Constantinople in 428, had begun by 
persecuting the Arians ; but while he insisted that in Jesus 
were combined two persons and two natures, he insisted that 
the Virgin Mary was the mother of Christ considered as man, 
but not the mother of Christ considered as God; and that, 
consequently, all those who gave her the title of Dei Genitrix, 
Deipara, 1 were in error. There were many who adopted 
these opinions, but by a large portion of the Church they were 
repudiated with horror, as utterly subverting the doctrine of 

Virgo Deipara (painting in Catacombs) 

the mystery of the Incarnation. Cyril of Alexandria opposed 
Nestorius and his followers, and defended with zealous enthu- 
siasm the claims of the Virgin to all the reverence and worship 
due to her ; for, as he argued, the two natures being one and 
indivisible from the moment of the miraculous conception, it 
followed that Mary did indeed bring forth God, — was, in 
fact, the Mother of God ; and all who took away from her 
this dignity and title were in error, and to be condemned as 

I hope I shall not be considered irreverent in thus plainly 
and simply stating the grounds of this celebrated schism, with 
reference to its influence on Art, — an influence incalculable, 
not only at the time, but ever since that time ; of which the 
manifold results, traced from century to century down to the 
present hour, would remain quite unintelligible, unless we 
clearly understood the origin and the issue of the contro- 

1 The inscription on the Greek and Bj'zantine pictures is usually MHP OY 

(MlJTTJp @€Ov). 


Cyril, who was as enthusiastic and indomitable as Nestorius, 
and had the advantage of taking the positive against the nega- 
tive side of the question, anathematized the doctrines of his 
opponent, in a synod held at Alexandria in 430, to which 
Pope Celestine II. gave the sanction of his authority. The 
Emperor "Theodosius II. then called a general council at Ephe- 
sus in 431, before which Nestorius refused to appear, and was 
deposed from his dignity of patriarch by the suffrages of two 
hundred bishops. But this did not put an end to the contro- 
versy ; the streets of Ephesus were disturbed by the brawls, 
and the pavement of the cathedral was literally stained with 
the blood of the contending parties. 

Theodosius arrested both the patriarchs, but after the lapse 
of only a few days Cyril triumphed over his adversary : with 
him triumphed the cause of the Virgin. Nestorius was de- 
posed and exiled ; his writings condemned to the flames ; but 
still the opinions he had advocated were adopted by numbers, 
who were regarded as heretics by those who called themselves 
"the Catholic Church." 

The long continuance of this controversy, the obstinacy of 
the Nestorians, the passionate zeal of those who held the op- 
posite doctrines, and their ultimate triumph when the Western 
Churches of Rome and Carthage declared in their favor, all 
tended to multiply and disseminate far and wide throughout 
Christendom those images of the Virgin which exhibited her as 
Mother of the Godhead. At length the ecclesiastical authori- 
ties, headed by Pope Gregory the Great, stamped them as or- 
thodox, and as the cross had been the primeval symbol which 
distinguished the Christian from the Pagan, so the image 
of the Virgin Mother with her Child now became the symbol 
which distinguished the Catholic Christian from the Nestorian 

Thus it appears that if the first religious representations of 
the Virgin and Child were not a consequence of the Nestorian 
schism, yet the consecration of such effigies as the visible form 
of a theological dogma to the purposes of worship and ecclesi- 
astical decoration must date from the Council of Ephesus in 
431 ; and their popularity and general diffusion throughout 
the Western Churches, from the pontificate of Gregory in the 
beginning of the seventh century. 

In the most ancient of these effigies which remain, we have 


clearly only a symbol ; a half figure, veiled, with hands out- 
spread, and the half figure of a child placed against her bosom, 
without any sentiment, without even the action of sustaining 
him. Such was the formal but quite intelligible sign ; but it 
soon became more, it became a representation. As it was in 
the East that the cause of the Virgin first triumphed, we 
might naturally expect to find the earliest examples in the old 
Greek churches ; but these must have perished in the furious 
onslaught made by the Iconoclasts on all the sacred images. 
The controversy between the image-worshippers and the image- 
breakers, which distracted the East for more than a century 
(that is, from 726 to 840) did not, however, extend to the 
West of Europe. We find the primeval Byzantine type, ot at 
least the exact reproduction of it, in the most ancient Western 
Churches, and preserved to us in the mosaics of Home, Ra- 
venna, and Capua. These remains are nearly all of the same 
date, much later than the single figures of Christ as Eedeemer, 
and belonging unfortunately to a lower period and style of 
Art. The true significance of the representation is not, how- 
ever, left doubtful ; for all the earliest traditions and inscrip- 
tions are in this agreed, that such effigies were intended as a 
confession of faith ; an acknowledgment of the dignity of the 
Virgin Mary as the " Sancta Dei Genitrix ; " as a visible 
refutation of " the infamous, iniquitous, and sacrilegious doc- 
trines of Nestorius the Heresiarch." 1 

As these ancient mosaic figures of the Virgin, enthroned 
with her infant Son, were the precursors and models of all 
that was afterwards conceived and executed in Art, we must 
examine them in detail before proceeding farther. 

The mosaic of the cathedral of Capua represents in the 
highest place the half figure of Christ in the act of benedic- 
tion. In one of the spandrils, to the right, is the prophet 
Isaiah, bearing a scroll, on which is inscribed, " Ecce Dominus 
in fortitudine veniet, et brachium ejus dominabitur," — " The 
Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule 
for him " (Is. xl. 10). On the left stands Jeremiah, also 
with a scroll, and the words, " Fortissime, magne, et potens, 
Dominus exercituum nomen tibi," — " The great, the mighty 

1 "Monstrando quod ipsa Deipara esseta, contra inipiam Nestorii haresim 
quam talcm esse iste nefandus Hseresiarcha negabat." Vide Ciampini, and 
Hunter's Sinnbilder. 


God, the Lord of hosts is his name" (Jer. xxxii. 18). In the 
centre of the vault beneath, the Virgin is seated on a rich 
throne, a footstool under her feet ; she wears a crown over her 
veil. Christ, seated on her knee, and clothed, holds a cross 
in his left hand ; the right is raised in benediction. On one 
side of the throne stands St. Peter and St. Stephen ; on the 
other, St. Paul and St. Agatha, to whom the church is dedi- 
cated. The Greek monogram of the Virgin is inscribed below 
the throne. 

The next in date which remains visible is the group in the 
apsis of S. Maria della Navicella, Rome, executed about 820, 
in the time of Paschal I., a pontiff who was very remarkable 
for the zeal with which he rebuilt and adorned the then half- 
ruined churches of Rome. The Virgin, of colossal size, is 
seated on a throne ; her robe and veil are blue ; the infant 
Christ, in a gold-colored vest, is seated in her lap, and raises 
his hand to bless the worshippers. On each side of the Vir- 
gin is a group of adoring angels ; at her feet kneels the diminu- 
tive figure of Pope Paschal. 

In the Santa Maria Nuova, 1 the Virgin is seated on a throne, 
wearing a rich crown, as queen of heaven. The infant Christ 
stands upon her knee ; she has one hand on her bosom and 
sustains him with the other. « 

On the facade of the portico of the S. Maria-in-Trastevere at 
Rome, the Virgin is enthroned, and crowned, and giving her 
breast to the child. This mosaic is of later date than that in 
the apsis, but is one of the oldest examples of a representation 
which was evidently directed against the heretical doubts of 
the Nestorians : " How," said they, pleading before the Coun- 
cil of Ephesus, " can we call him God who is only two or three 
months old ; or suppose the Logos to have been suck/erf and 
to increase in wisdom ? " the Virgin in the act of suckling her 
Child is a motif often since repeated when the original signifi- 
cance was forgotten. 

In the chapel of San Zeno, Rome, the Virgin is enthroned ; 
the Child is seated on her knee. He holds a scroll, on which 
are the words " Ego sum lux mundi," " I am the light of the 
world ; " the right hand is raised in benediction. Above is 
the monogram M-P ©Y, Maria Mater Dei. 

In the mosaics, from the eighth to the eleventh century, we 
1 Called, also, Santa Francesca, Rome. 


find Art at a very low ebb. The background is flat gold, not 
a blue heaven with its golden stars, as in the early mosaics of 
the fifth and sixth centuries. The figures are ill-proportioned ; 
the faces consist of lines without any attempt at form or ex- 
pression. The draperies, however, have a certain amplitude ; 
" and the character of a few accessories, for example, the 
crown on the Virgin's head, instead of the invariable Byzantine 
veil, betrays," says Kugler, " a northern and probably a Frank- 
ish influence." The attendant saints, generally St. Peter and 
St. Paul, stand stiff, and upright on each side. 

But with all their faults, these grand, formal, significant 
groups — or rather not groups, for there was as yet no attempt 
either at grouping or variety of action, for that would have 
been considered irreverent — but these rows of figures, were 
the models of the early Italian painters and mosaic-workers in 
their large architectural mosaics and altar-pieces set up in the 
churches during the revival of Art, from the period of Cima- 
bue and Andrea Tafi down to the latter half of the thirteenth 
century ; all partook of this lifeless, motionless character, and 
were at the same time touched with the same solemn religious 
feeling. And long afterwards, when the arrangement became 
less formal and conventional, their influence may still be traced 
in those noble enthroned Madonnas, which represent the Vir- 
gin as queen of heaven and of angels, either alone, or with 
attendant saints and martyrs, and venerable confessors waiting 
round her state. 

The general disposition of the two figures varies but little 
in the earliest examples which exist for us in painting, and 
which are, in fact, very much alike. The Madonna seated on 
a throne, wearing a red tunic and a blue mantle, part of which 
is drawn as a veil over her head, holds the infant Christ, 
clothed in a red or blue tunic. She looks straight out of the 
picture with her head a little declined to one side. Christ has 
the right hand raised in benediction, and the other extended. 
Such were the simple, majestic, and decorous effigies, the legiti- 
mate successors of the old architectural mosaics, and usually 
placed over the high altar of a church or chapel. The earliest 
examples which have been preserved are for that reason cele- 
brated in the history of Art. 

The first is the enthroned Virgin of Guido da Siena 
[church of S. Domenico, Siena], who preceded Cimabue by 



twenty or thirty years. 
In this picture the By- 
zantine conception and 
style of execution are 
adhered to, yet with 
a softened sentiment, 
a touch of more natu- 
ral, lifelike feeling, par- 
ticularly in the head 
of the Child. The 
expression in the face 
of the Virgin struck 
me as very gentle and 
attractive ; but it has 
been, I am afraid, 
retouched, so that we 
cannot be quite sure 
that we have the ori- 
ginal features. For- 
tunately Guido has 
placed a date on his 
work, mccxxi., and 

also inscribed on it a distich which shows that he felt, with 
some consciousness and self-complacency, his superiority to his 
Byzantine models : — 

Me Guido de Senis diebus depinxit amoenis, 
Quern Christus leuis nullis velit angere poenis. 1 

Next, we may refer to the two colossal Madonnas by Cima- 
bue preserved at Florence. The first, which was painted for 
the Vallombrosian monks of the S. Trinita, is now in the gal- 
lery of the Academy. It has all the stiffness and coldness of 
the Byzantine manner. There are three adoring angels on each 
side, disposed one above another, and four prophets are placed 
below in separate niches, half figures, holding in their hands 
their prophetic scrolls, as in the old mosaic at Capua, already 
described. The second is preserved in the Kuccellai chapel, 
in the S. Maria Novella, in its original place. In spite of its 

1 The meaning, for it is not easy to translate literally, is, " Me hath painted, 
in pleasant days, Guido of Siena, Upon whose soul may Christ deign to have 
mercy ! " 

Madonna and Child (Guido da Siena) 



colossal size, and formal attitude, and severe style, the face of 
this Madonna is very striking, and has been well described as 
" sweet and unearthly, reminding you of a sibyl." The infant 
Christ is also very fine. There are three angels on each side, 
who seem to sustain the carved chair or throne on which the 
Madonna is seated ; and the prophets, instead of being below, 

are painted in small cir- 
cular medallions down 
each side of the frame. 
The throne and the 
background are covered 
with gold. Vasari gives 
a very graphic and an- 
imated account of the 
estimation in which 
this picture was held 
when first executed. 
Its colossal dimensions, 
though familiar in the 
great mosaics, were 
hitherto unknown in 
painting ; and not less 
astonishing appeared the 
deviation, though slight, 
from ugliness and life- 
lessness into grace and 
nature. " And thus," 
he says, " it happened 
that this work was an object of so much admiration to the 
people of that day, they having then never seen anything bet- 
ter, that it was carried in solemn procession, with the sound 
of trumpets and other festal demonstrations, from the house of 
Cimabue to the church, he himself being highly rewarded and 
honored for it. It is further reported, and may be read in cer- 
tain records of old painters, that, whilst Cimabue was painting 
this picture, in a garden near the gate of San Pietro, King 
Charles the Elder, of Anjou, passed through Florence, and the 
authorities of the city, among other marks of respect, conducted 
him to see the picture of Cimabue. When this work was thus 
shown to the king, it had not before been seen by any one ; 
wherefore all the men and women of Florence hastened in 


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Madonna and Child (Cimabue) 



crowds to admire it, making all possible demonstrations of 
delight. The inhabitants of the neighborhood, rejoicing in this 
occurrence, ever afterwards called that place ' Borgo Allegri ; ' 
and this name it has ever since retained, although in process of 
time it became inclosed within the walls of the city." 

In the strictly devotional representation of the Virgin 
and Child, she is invariably seated, till the end of the thir- 
teenth century ; and for the next hundred years the inno- 
vation of a standing 
figure was confined to 
sculpture. An early 
example is the beauti- 
ful statue by Niccolo 
PisanOj in the Capella 
della Spina at Pisa ; 
and others will be 
found in Cicognara's 
work (Storia della 
Scultura Moderna). 
The Gothic cathedrals 
of the thirteenth cen- 
tury also exhibit some 
most graceful exam- 
ples of the Madonna 
in sculpture, standing 
on a pedestal, crowned 
or veiled, sustaining 
on her left arm the 
divine Child, while in 
her right she holds a 
sceptre or perhaps a 
flower. Such crowned 
or sceptred effigies of 
the Virgin were placed 
on the central pillar 
which usually divided 
the great door of a 

church into two equal parts ; in reference to the text, "T am 
the door : by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved." 
In Roman Catholic countries we find such effigies set up at 

Madonna di San Brizio (Orvieto) 



the corners of streets, over the doors of houses, and the gates 
of gardens, sometimes rude and coarse, sometimes exceedingly- 
graceful, according to the period of art and skill of the local 
artist. Here the Virgin appears in her character of Protec- 
tress — our Lady of Grace, or our Lady of Succor. 

In pictures, we rarely find the Virgin standing before the 

end of the fourteenth cen- 
tury. An almost singu- 
lar example is to be found 
in an old Greek Madonna, 
venerated as miraculous, 
in the cathedral of Orvi- 
eto, under the title of " La 
Madonna di San Brizio," 
and to which is attributed 
a fabulous antiquity. I 
may be mistaken, but my 
impression on seeing it 
was that it could not be 
older than the end of the 
thirteenth century. The 
crowns worn by the Virgin 
and Christ are even more 
modern, and out of char- 
acter with the rest of the 
painting, of which I give 
a sketch. In Italy the 
pupils of Giotto first be- 
gan to represent the Vir- 
gin standing on a raised 
dais. There is an ex- 
ample by Puccio Capanna, engraved in D'Agincourt's work (PI. 
117) ; but such figures are very uncommon. In the fifteenth 
and sixteenth centuries they occur more frequently in the north- 
ern than in the Italian schools. This little sketch, after Martin 
Schoen, is an example. 

In the simple enthroned Madonna, variations of attitude and 
sentiment were introduced. The Virgin, instead of support- 
ing her Son with both hands, embraces him witli one hand, 
and with the other points to him ; or raises her right hand to 

Madonna and Child (Martin Schoen) 



Madonna and Child (attributed to Van Eyck) 

bless the worshipper. Then the Child caresses his mother — 
a charming and natural idea, but a deviation from the solem- 
nity of the purely religious significance ; better imagined, how- 
ever, to convey the relation between the mother and child, 
than the Virgin suckling her infant, to which I have already 
alluded in its early religious, or rather controversial, meaning. 
It is not often that the enthroned Virgin is thus occupied. 
Mr. Rogers had in his collection an exquisite example, where 
the Virgin, seated in state on a magnificent throne under a 
Gothic canopy and crowned as queen of heaven, offers her 
breast to the divine Infant. This sketch, from a beautiful lit- 
tle "Virgin " in the Vienna Gallery, attributed to the same 



master, John van Eyck, 1 exhibits the same action. The Virgin 
is here standing, as if she had just risen from her throne, 
under a Gothic canopy, on which is sculptured the Fall ; Adam 
on one side, and Eve on the other. 

Then the Mother adores her child. This is properly the 
Madre Pia, afterwards so beautifully varied. He lies ex- 
tended on her knee, and 
she looks down upon him 
with hands folded in 
prayer ; or she places her 
hand under his foot, an 
attitude which originally 
implied her acknowledg- 
ment of his sovereignty 
and superiority, but was 
continued as a natural 
motif when the figura- 
tive and religious meaning 
was no longer considered. 
Sometimes the Child looks 
up in his mother's face, 
with his finger on his lip, 
expressing the Verbum 
sum, "I am the Word." 
Sometimes the Child, 
bending forwards from his 
mother's knee, looks down 
benignly on the worship- 
pers who are supposed to 
be kneeling at the foot of 
the altar. Sometimes, but 
very rarely, he sleeps ; 
never in the earliest ex- 
amples ; for to exhibit the 
young Redeemer asleep, where he is an object of worship, was 
then a species of solecism. 

When the enthroned Virgin is represented holding a book, or 
reading, while the infant Christ, perhaps, lays his hand upon 
it, — a variation in the first simple treatment not earlier than 

1 [Attributed to Van Eyck in Forster's Denkmale der Deutscken Kunst, but 
not found under Van Eyck's name in the Belvedere catalogue of 1892.] 

Madonna and Child (Bellini) 



the end of the fourteenth century, and very significant, — she 
is then the Virgo Sapimt%&8ima y the most Wise Virgin; or 
the Mother of Wisdom, Mater Sapientice ; and the hook she 
holds is the Book of Wisdom. 1 This is the proper interpreta- 
tion where the Virgin 

is seated on her throne. „»° < " > '" <, \, 

In a most beautiful pic- 
ture by Granacci (Ber- 
lin Gallery) she is thus 
enthroned and reading 
intently ; while John 
the Baptist and St. Mi- 
chael stand on each 

With regard to cos- 
tume, the colors in 
■which the enthroned 
Virgin-mother was ar- 
rayed scarcely ever va- 
ried from the established 
rule : her tunic was to 
be red, her mantle blue ; 
red, the color of love 
and religious aspiration ; 
blue, the color of con- 
stancy and heavenly 
purity. In- the pictures 
of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and down to the 
early part of the fifteenth, these colors are of a soft and delicate 
tint — rose and pale azure ; but afterwards, when powerful 
effects of color became a study, we have the intense crimson, 
and the dark blue verging on purple. Sometimes the blue 
mantle is brought over her head, sometimes she wears a white 
veil, in other instances the queenly crown. Sometimes (but 
very rarely when she is throned as the Rer/ina Cadi) she has 
no covering or ornament on her head ; and her fair hair, parted 
on her brow, Mows down on either 'side in long luxuriant 

1 L'Ablx? Crosnier, Tcorwfjmphie Chrctienne ; but the book as an attribute 
had another meaning, for which see the Introduction. 

Mater Sapientiae 


In the Venetian and German pictures she is often most 
gorgeously arrayed ; her crown studded with jewels, her robe 
covered with embroidery, or broidered with gold and pearls. 
The ornamental parts of her dress and throne were sometimes, 
to increase the magnificence of the effect, raised in relief and 
gilt. To the early German painters we might too often apply 
the sarcasm of Apelles, who said of his rival, that, "not being 
able to make Venus beautiful, he had made hen fine ; " but some 
of the Venetian Madonnas are lovely as w T ell as splendid. Gold 
was often used, and in great profusion, in some of the Lombard 
pictures even of a late date ; for instance, by Carlo Crivelli : be- 
fore the middle of the sixteenth century this was considered 
barbaric. The best Italian painters give the Virgin ample, 
well-disposed drapery, but dispensed with ornament. The star 
embroidered on her shoulder, so often retained when all other 
ornament was banished, expresses her title " Stella Maris." I 
have seen some old pictures in which she wears a ring on the 
third finger. This expresses her dignity as the Sposa as well 
as the Mother. 

With regard to the divine Infant, he is, in the early pic- 
tures, invariably draped, and it is not till the beginning of the 
fifteenth century that we find him first partially and then 
wholly undraped. In the old representations he wears a long 
tunic with full sleeves, fastened with a girdle. It is some- 
times of gold stuff embroidered, sometimes white, crimson, or 
blue. This almost regal robe was afterwards exchanged for a 
little semi-transparent shirt without sleeves. In pictures of 
the throned Madonna painted expressly for nunneries, the 
Child is, I believe, always clothed, or the Mother partly en- 
folds him in her own drapery. In the Umbrian pictures of 
the fifteenth century, the Infant often wears a coral necklace, 
then and now worn by children in that district as a charm 
against the evil eye. In the Venetian pictures he has some- 
times a coronal of pearls. In the carved and painted images 
set up in churches he wears, like his mother, a rich crown 
over a curled wig and is hung round with jewels ; but such im- 
ages must be considered as out of the pale of legitimate Art. 

Of the various objects placed in the hand of the Child as 
emblems I have already spoken, and of their sacred signifi- 
cance as such — the globe, the book, the bird, the flower, etc. 


In the works of the ignorant secular artists of later times, 
these symbols of power, or divinity, or wisdom, became mere 
playthings ; and when they had become familiar, and required 
by custom, and the old sacred associations utterly forgotten, 
we find them most profanely applied and misused. To give 
one example : the bird was originally placed in the hand of 
Christ as the emblem of the soul, or of the spiritual as op- 
posed to the earthly nature ; in a picture by Baroccio, he holds 
it up before a cat, to be frightened and tormented. But to 

The throne on which the Virgin is seated is, in very early 
pictures, merely an embroidered cushion on a sort of stool, or 
a carved Gothic chair, such as we see in the thrones and stalls 
of cathedrals. It is afterwards converted into a rich architec- 
tural throne, most elaborately adorned, according to the taste 
and skill of the artist. Sometimes, as in the early Venetian 
pictures, it is hung with garlands of fruits and flowers, most 
fancifully disposed. Sometimes the arabesque ornaments are 
raised in relief and gilt. Sometimes the throne is curiously 
painted to imitate various marbles, and adorned with medal- 
lions and bas-reliefs from those subjects of the Old Testament 
which have a reference to the character of the Virgin and the 
mission of her divine Child ; the commonest of all being the 
Fall, which rendered a Redeemer necessary. Moses striking 
the rock (the waters of life), the elevation of the brazen ser- 
pent, the gathering of the manna, or Moses holding the broken 
tablets of the old law — all types of redemption — are often 
thus introduced as ornaments. In the sixteenth century, 
when the purely religious sentiment had declined, and a classi- 
cal and profane taste had infected every department of art and 
literature, we find the throne of the Virgin adorned with 
classical ornaments and bas-reliefs from the antique remains ; 
as, for instance, the hunt of Theseus and Hippolyta. We 
must then suppose her throned on the ruins of paganism, an 
idea suggested by the old legends, which represent the temples 
and statues of the heathen gods as falling into ruin on the 
approach of the Virgin and her Child ; and a more picturesque 
application of this idea afterwards became common in other 
subjects. In [a composition by] Garofalo the throne is adorned 
with sphinxes — a V antique. Andrea del Sarto has placed 
harpies at the corner of the pedestal of the throne in his 



famous Madonna di San Francesco (Uffizi, Florence), — a gross 
fault in that otherwise grand and faultless picture ; one of those 
desecrations of a religious theme which Andrea, as devoid of 
religious feeling as he was weak and dishonest, was in the 

habit of committing. 

But whatever the ma- 
terial or style of the 
throne, whether simple 
or gorgeous, it is sup- 
posed to be a heavenly 
throne. It is not of the 
earth, nor on the earth ; 
and at first it was alone 
and unapproachable. The 
Virgin-mother, thus seat- 
ed in her majesty, apart 
from all human beings, 
and in communion only 
with the Infant Godhead 
on her knee, or the liv- 
ing worshippers who 
come to lay down their 
cares and sorrows at the 
foot of her throne and 
breathe a devout Salve 
Regina ! is, through its 
very simplicity and con- 
centrated interest, a sub- 
lime conception. The 
effect of these figures, in 
their divine quietude and 
loveliness, can never be 
appreciated when hung 
in a gallery or room with 
other pictures, for admi- 
ration, or criticism, or 
comparison. I remem- 
ber well suddenly discov- 
ering such a Madonna, in a retired chapel in S. Francesco della 
Vigna at Venice — a picture I had never heard of, by a painter 
then quite unknown to me, Fra Antonio da Negroponte, a 

Madonna of the Harpies (Andrea del Sarto) 



Franciscan friar who lived in the 
fifteenth century. The calm dig- 
nity of the attitude, the sweet- 
ness, the adoring love in the face 
of the queenly mother, as with 
folded hands she looked down on 
the divine Infant reclining on her 
knee, so struck upon my heart that 
I remained for minutes quite mo- 
tionless. In this picture, nothing 
can exceed the gorgeous splendor 
of the Virgin's throne and apparel : 
she wears a jewelled crown ; the 
Child a coronal of pearls ; while 
the background is composed en- 
tirely of the mystical roses twined 
in a sort of treillage. 

I remember, too, a picture by 
Carlo Crivelli [National Gallery], 
in which the Virgin is seated on 
a throne, adorned, in the artist's 
usual style, with rich festoons of 
fruit and flowers.. She is most 
sumptuously crowned and ap- 
parelled ; and the beautiful Child 
on her knee, grasping her hand 
as if to support himself, with the 
most naive and graceful action 
bends forward and looks down benignly on the worshippers 
supposed to be kneeling below. 

When human personages were admitted within the same 
compartment, the throne was generally raised by several steps, 
or placed on a lofty pedestal, and till the middle of the fifteenth 
century it was always in the centre of the composition fronting 
the spectator. It was a Venetian innovation to place the 
throne at one side of the picture, and show the Virgin in profile, 
or in the act of turning round. This more scenic disposition 
became afterwards, in the passion for variety and effect, too 
palpably artificial, and at length forced and theatrical. 

The Italians distinguished between the Madonna in Trono 
and the Madonna in Gloria. When human beings, however 

Enthroned Madonna (Carlo Cri 


sainted and exalted, were admitted within the margin of the 
picture, the divine dignity of the Virgin as Madre di Bio was 
often expressed by elevating her wholly above the earth, and 
placing her " in regions mild of calm and serene air," with the 
crescent or the rainbow under her feet. This is styled a " Ma- 
donna in Gloria." 1 It is, in fact, a return to the antique 
conception of the enthroned Kedeemer, seated on a rainbow, 
sustained by the " curled clouds," and encircled by a glory of 
cherubim. The aureole of light, within which the glorified 
Madonna and her Child when in a standing position are often 
placed, is of an oblong form, called from its shape the maw- 
dorla, " the almond ; " 2 but in general she is seated above in 
a sort of ethereal exaltation, while the attendant saints stand 
on the earth below. This beautiful arrangement, though often 
very sublimely treated, has not the simple austere dignity of 
the throne of state ; and when the Virgin and Child, as in the 
works of the late Spanish and Flemish painters, are formed 
out of earth's most coarse and commonplace materials, the 
aerial throne of floating fantastic clouds suggests a disagreeable 
discord, a fear lest the occupants of heaven should fall on the 
heads of their worshippers below. Not so the Virgins of the 
old Italians ; for they look so divinely ethereal that they seem 
uplifted by their own spirituality : not even the air-borne 
clouds are needed to sustain them. They have no touch of 
earth or earth's material beyond the human form : their 
proper place is the seventh heaven; and there they repose, a 
presence and a power — a personification of infinite mercy sub- 
limated by innocence and purity ; and thence they look down 
on their worshippers and attendants, while these gaze upwards 
" with looks commercing with the skies." 

And now of these angelic and sainted accessories, however 
placed, we must speak at length ; for much of the sentiment 
and majesty of the Madonna effigies depend on the proper treat- 
ment of the attendant figures, and on the meaning they con- 
vey to the observer. 

The Virgin is entitled, by authority of the Church, queen of 

1 [Modern examples of the Madonna in Gloria are by Defregger, Boden- 
hausen, and Bouguereau.] 

2 Or the "Vesica Piscis," by Lord Lindsay and others. 




angels, of prophets, of apostles, of martyrs, of virgins, and of 
confessors ; and from among these her attendants are selected. 
ANGELA were first admitted, waiting immediately round her 
chair of state. A signal instance is the group of the enthroned 
Madonna, attended by the four archangels, as we find it in the 
very ancient mosaic in Sant' Apollinare Nuovo, at Ravenna. 
As the belief in the superior power and sanctity of the Blessed 

Enthroned Madonna with Archangels (Mosaic) 

Virgin grew and spread, the angels no longer attended her as 
princes of the heavenly host, guardians, or councillors ; they 
became, in the early pictures, adoring angels, sustaining her 
throne on each side, or holding up the embroidered curtain 
which forms the background. In the Madonna by Cimabue, 
which, if it be not the earliest after the revival of Art, was 


one of the first in which the Byzantine manner was softened and 
Italianized, we have six grand, solemn-looking angels, three on 
each side of the throne, arranged perpendicularly one above 
another. The Virgin herself is of colossal proportions, far ex- 
ceeding them in size, and looking out of her frame, " large as a 
goddess of the antique world." In the other Madonna in 
the gallery of the Academy we have the same arrangement 
of the angels. Giotto diversified this arrangement. He placed 
the angels kneeling at the foot of the throne, making music, 
and waiting on their divine Mistress as her celestial choristers, 
— a service the more fitting, because she was not only queen of 
angels, but patroness of music and minstrelsy, in which charac- 
ter she has St. Cecilia as her deputy and delegate. This accom- 
paniment of the choral angels was one of the earliest of the 
accessories, and continued down to the latest times. ' They are 
most particularly lovely in the pictures of the fifteenth cen- 
tury. They kneel and strike their golden lutes, or stand and 
sound their silver clarions, or sit like beautiful winged children 
on the steps of the throne, and pipe and sing as if their spirits 
were overflowing with harmony as well as love and adoration. 1 
In a curious picture of the enthroned Madonna and Child, by 
Gentile Fabriano (Berlin Gallery), a tree rises on each side of 
the throne, on which little red seraphim are perched like birds, 
singing and playing on musical instruments. In later times 
they play and sing for the solace of the divine Infant, not 
merely adoring, but ministering : but these angels ministrant 
belong to another class of pictures. Adoration, not service, 
was required by the divine Child and his Mother, when they 
were represented simply in their divine character and placed 
far beyond earthly wants and earthly associations.. 

There are examples where the angels in attendance bear, 
not harps or lutes, but the attributes of the Cardinal Virtues, 
as in an altar-piece by Taddeo Gaddi (Rinuccini chapel, Santa 
Croce), at Florence. 

[An interesting picture of the Enthroned Madonna, by Miss 
Mary L. Macomber (1893), shows two angels kneeling beside 
the throne, as symbols of the Passion and Sorrow of Christ. 
The picture is characterized by remarkable spirituality of con- 

1 [A beautiful example is the picture in the National Gallery called the "Glo- 
rification of the Virgin," once attributed to Lo Spagna, but assigned by Crowe 
and Cavalcaselle and by Signor Frizzoni to Bertucci of Faenza.] 


ception and delicacy in treatment. The Mother clasps her 
Babe tenderly to her as if to shield him from the suffering 
which the two angels represent.] 

The patriarchs, prophets, and sibyls, all the personages, in 
fact, who lived under the Old Law, when forming, in a picture 
or altar-piece, part of the cortege of the throned Virgin, as 
types, or prophets, or harbingers of the Incarnation, are on the 
outside of that sacred compartment wherein she is seated with 
her Child. This was the case with all the human personages 
down to the end of the thirteenth century ; and after that 
time I find the characters of the Old Testament still excluded 
from the groups immediately round her throne. Their place 
was elsewhere allotted, at a more respectful distance. The only 
exceptions I can remember are King David and the patriarch 
Job ; and these only in late pictures, where David does not 
appear as prophet, but as the ancestor of the Redeemer ; and 
Job only at Venice, where he is a patron saint. 

The four evangelists and the twelve apostles are, in their 
collective character in relation to the Virgin, treated like the 
prophets, and placed around the altar-piece. Where we find 
one or more of the evangelists introduced into the group of 
attendant " Sanctities " on each side of her throne, it is not in 
their character of evangelists, but rather as patron saints. 
Thus St. Mark appears constantly in the Venetian pictures ; 
but it is as the patron and protector of Venice. St. John the 
Evangelist, a favorite attendant oh the Virgin, is near her in 
virtue of his peculiar relation to her and to Christ ; and he is 
also a popular patron saint. St. Luke and St. Matthew, un- 
less they be patrons of the particular locality, or of the votary 
who presents the picture, never appear. It is the same with 
the apostles in their collective character as such ; we find them 
constantly, as statues, ranged on each side of the Virgin, or as 
separate figures. Thus they stand over the screen of St. 
Mark's, at Venice, and also on the carved frames of the altar- 
pieces ; but either from their number, or some other cause, 
they are seldom grouped round the enthroned Virgin. 

It is St. John the Baptist who, next to the angels, 
seems to have been the first admitted to a propinquity with the 
divine persons. In Greek Art he is himself an angel, a mes- 
senger, and often represented with wings. He was especially 


venerated in the Greek Church in his character of precursor 
of the Redeemer, and, as such, almost indispensable in every 
sacred group ; and it is, perhaps, to the early influence of 
Greek art on the selection and arrangement of the accessory 
personages that we owe the preeminence of John the Baptist. 
One of the most graceful, and appropriate, and familiar of all 
the accessory figures grouped with the Virgin and Child is that 
of the young St. John (called in Italian San Giovannino, and 
in Spanish San Juanito). When first introduced, Ave find him 
taking the place of the singing or piping angels in front of the 
throne. He generally stands, " clad in his raiment of camel's 
hair, having a girdle round his loins," and in his hand a reed 
cross, round which is bound a scroll with the words Ecce Ag- 
nus Dei (Behold the Lamb of God), while with his finger he 
points up to the enthroned group above him, expressing the 
text from St. Luke (c. ii.), " And thou, Child, shalt be called 
the Prophet of the Highest," as in Francia's picture in our 
National Gallery. Sometimes he bears a lamb in his arms, the 
Ecce Agnus Dei in form instead of words. 

The introduction of the young St. John becomes more and 
more usual from the beginning of the sixteenth century. In 
later pictures, a touch of the dramatic is thrown into the ar- 
rangement : instead of being at the foot of the throne, he is 
placed beside it ; as where the Virgin is throned on a lofty 
pedestal, and she lays one hand on the head of the little St. 
John, while with the other she strains her Child to her bosom ; 
or where the infant Christ and St. John, standing at her knee, 
embrace each other — a graceful incident in a Holy Family, 
but in the enthroned Madonna it impairs the religious concep- 
tion ; it places St. John too much on a level with the Saviour, 
who is here in that divine character to which St. John bore 
witness, but which he did not share. It is very unusual to 
see John the Baptist in his childish character glorified in 
heaven among the celestial beings : I remember but one in- 
stance, in a beautiful picture by Bonifazio, in the Academy, 
Venice. 1 The Virgin is seated in glory, with her Infant on 
her knee, and encircled by cherubim ; on one side an angel 
approaches with a basket of flowers on his head, and she is in 
act to take these flowers and scatter them on the saints be- 
low, — a new and graceful motif : on the other side sits John 
1 [Probably Bonifazio the Venetian, the third of the same name.] 


the Baptist as a boy about twelve years of age. The attendant 
saints below are St. Peter, St. Andrew, St. Thomas holding 
the girdle, 1 St. Francis and St. Clara, all looking up with 
ecstatic devotion, except St. Clara, who looks down with a 
charming modesty. 

In early pictures, St. Anna, the mother of the Virgin, is 
very seldom introduced, because in such sublime and mystical 
representations of the Vergine Dea, whatever connected her 
with realities, or with her earthly genealogy, is suppressed. 
But from the middle of the fifteenth century St. Anna became, 
from the current legends of the history of the Virgin, an im- 
portant saint, and when introduced into the devotional groups, 
which, however, is seldom, it seems to have embarrassed the 
painters how to dispose of her. She could not well be placed 
below her daughter ; she could not be placed above her. It 
is a curious proof of the predominance of the feminine element 
throughout these representations, that while St. Joachim the 
father, and St. Joseph the husband of the Virgin, are either 
omitted altogether, or are admitted only in a subordinate and 
inferior position, St. Anna, when she does appear, is on an 
equality with her daughter. There is a beautiful example, 
and apt for illustration, in the picture by Francia, in our Na- 
tional Gallery, where St. Anna and the Virgin are seated to- 
gether on the same throne, and the former presents the apple to 
her divine Grandson. I remember, too, a most graceful instance 
where St. Anna stands behind and a little above the throne, 
with her hands placed affectionately on the shoulders of the 
Virgin, and raises her eyes to heaven as if in thanksgiving to 
God, who through her had brought salvation into the world. 
Where the Virgin is seated on the knees of St. Anna, it is a 
still later innovation. There is such a group in a picture in 
the Louvre, after a famous cartoon by Leonardo da Vinci, 
which, in spite of its celebrity, has always appeared to me 
very fantastic and irreverent in treatment. There is also a fine 
print by Caraglio, in which the Virgin and Child are sustained 
on the knees of St. Anna : under her feet lies the dragon. St. 
Koch and St. Sebastian on each side, the dead dragon, show 
that this is a votive subject, an expression of thanksgiving 
after the cessation of a plague. The Germans, who were fond 
1 St. Thomas is called in the catalogue, James, king of Aragon. 



of this group, imparted even to the most religious treatment 
a domestic sentiment. 

The earliest instance I can point to of the enthroned 
Virgin attended by both her parents is by [Alvise] Vivarini 
(Academy, Venice) : St. Anna is on the right of the throne ; 

milf- \<^!t^ii 

St. Anna, Madonna, and Child (Francesco da San Gallo) 

St. Joachim, in the act of reverently removing his cap, stands 
on the left ; more in front is a group of Franciscan saints. 

The introduction of St. Anna into a Holy Family, as part 
of the domestic group, is very appropriate and graceful ; but 
this of course admits, and indeed requires, a wholly different 
sentiment. The same remark applies to St. Joseph, who, in 
the earlier representations of the enthroned Virgin, is carefully 
excluded ; he appears, I think, first in the Venetian pictures. 


There is an example is a splendid composition by Paul Vero- 
nese. (Academy, Venice.) The Virgin, on a lofty throne, 
holds the Child ; both look down on the worshippers ; St. 
Joseph is partly seen behind, leaning on his crutch. Round 
the throne stand St. John the Baptist) St. Justina, as patroness 
of Venice, and St. George ; St. Jerome is on the other side in 
deep meditation. "A magnificent picture, quite sumptuous 
in color and arrangement, and yet so solemn and so calm ! " 
There is another example by Paul Veronese, similar in charac- 
ter and treatment, in which St. John and St. Joseph are on 
the throne with the Virgin and Child, and St. Catherine and 
St. Anthony below. 

The composition by Michael Angelo styled a "Holy Family " 
is, though singular in treatment, certainly devotional in charac- 
ter, and an enthroned Virgin. She is seated in the centre, on 
a raised architectural seat, holding a book ; the infant Christ 
slumbers — books can teach him nothing, and to make him 
reading is unorthodox. In the background, on one side, St. 
Joseph leans over a balustrade, as if in devout contemplation ; 
a young St. John the Baptist leans on the other side. The 
grand-mannered, symmetrical treatment is very remarkable and 
characteristic. There are many engravings of this celebrated 
composition. In one of them, the book held by the Virgin 
bears on one side the text in Latin, (i Blessed art thou among 
women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb." On the oppo- 
site page, " Blessed be God, who has regarded the low state of 
his handmaiden. For, behold, from henceforth all genera- 
tions shall call me blessed." [A painting after this composi- 
tion by Marcello Venusti is in the National Gallery.] 

While the young St. John is admitted into such close com- 
panionship with the enthroned Madonna, his mother Elizabeth, 
so commonly and beautifully introduced into the Holy Families, 
is almost uniformly excluded. 

Next in order, as accessory figures, appear some one or two 
or more of the martyrs, confessors, and virgin patronesses, with 
their respective attributes, either placed in separate niches and 
compartments on each side, or, when admitted within the sacred 
precincts where sit the queenly Virgin-mother and her divine 
Son, standing in the manner of councillors and officers of state 
on solemn occasions round an earthly sovereign, all reverently 


calm and still ; till gradually this solemn formality, this isola- 
tion of the principal characters, gave way to some sentiment 
which placed them in nearer relation to each other, and to the 
divine personages. Occasional variations of attitude and action 
were introduced — at first, a rare innovation ; ere long, a cus- 
tom, a fashion. For instance, the doctors turn over the leaves 
of their great books as if seeking for the written testimonies 
to the truth of the mysterious Incarnation made visible in the 
persons of the Mother and Child ; the confessors contemplate 
the radiant group with rapture, and seem ready to burst forth 
in hymns of praise ; the martyrs kneel in adoration ; the virgins 
gracefully offer their victorious palms : and thus the painters 
of the best periods of Art contrived to animate their sacred 
groups without rendering them too dramatic and too secular. 

Such, then, was the general arrangement of that religious 
subject which is technically styled " The Madonna enthroned 
and attended by Saints." The selection and the relative posi- 
tion of these angelic and saintly accessories were not, as I 
have already observed, matters of mere taste or caprice ; and 
an attentive observation of the choice and disposition of the 
attendant figures will often throw light on the original signifi- 
cance of such pictures, and the circumstances under which they 
were painted. 

Shall I attempt a rapid classification and interpretation of 
these infinitely varied groups ? It is a theme which might well 
occupy volumes rather than pages, and which requires far more 
antiquarian learning and historical research than I can pretend 
to ; still, by giving the result of my own observations in some 
few instances, it may be possible so to excite the attention and 
fancy of the reader as to lead him farther on the same path 
than I have myself been able to venture. 

We can trace, in a large class of these pictures, a general 
religious significance, common to all periods, all localities, 
all circumstances ; while in another class the interest is not 
only particular and local, but sometimes even personal. 

To the first class belongs the antique and beautiful group 
of the Virgin and Child, enthroned between the two great 
archangels, St. Michael and St. Gabriel. It is probably the 
most ancient of these combinations : we find it in the earliest 



Madonna of the Fish (Raphael) 

Greek Art, in the carved ivory diptychs of the eighth and 
and ninth centuries, in the old Greco-Italian pictures, in the 
ecclesiastical sculpture and stained glass of from the twelfth 
to the fifteenth century. In the most ancient examples, the 
two angels are seen standing on each side of the Madonna, not 
worshipping, but with their sceptres and attributes, as princes 
of the heavenly host, attending on her who is queen of angels j 


St. Gabriel as the angel of birth and life, St. Michael as the 
angel of death, that is, in the Christian sense, of deliverance 
and immortality. There was an instance of this antique treat- 
ment in a small Greek picture in the Wallers te in collection, 
Kensington Palace [now dispersed]. 

In later pictures, St. Gabriel seldom appears except as the 
Angelo Annunziatore ; but St. Michael very frequently. 
Sometimes, as conqueror over sin and representative of the 
Church militant, he stands with his foot on the dragon with a 
triumphant air ; or, kneeling, he presents to the infant Christ 
the scales of eternal justice, as in a famous picture [in the 
Louvre, attributed to the school] of Leonardo da Vinci. It is 
not only because of his popularity as a patron saint, and of the 
number of churches dedicated to him, that he is so frequently 
introduced into the Madonna pictures ; according to the legend, 
he was by divine appointment the guardian of the Virgin and 
her Son while they sojourned on earth. The angel Raphael 
leading Tobias always expresses protection, and especially pro- 
tection to the young. Tobias with his fish was an early type 
of baptism. There are many beautiful examples. In Ra- 
phael's " Madonna dell' Pesce " (Madrid Gallery) he is intro- 
duced as the patron saint of the painter, but not without a 
reference to a more sacred meaning, that of the guardian spirit 
of all humanity. The warlike figure of St. Michael, and the 
benign St. Raphael, are thus represented as celestial guardians 
in the beautiful picture by Perugino now in our National 

There are instances of the three archangels all standing to- 
gether below the glorified Virgin ; St. Michael in the centre 
with his foot on the prostrate fiend ; St. Gabriel on the right 
presents his lily ; and, on the left, the protecting angel pre- 
sents his human charge, and points up to the source of salva- 
tion, as in an engraving after Giulio -Romano. 

The Virgin between St. Peter and St. Paul is also an ex- 
tremely ancient and significant group. It appears in the old 
mosaics. As chiefs of the apostles and joint founders of the 
Church, St. Peter and St. Paul are prominent figures in many 
groups and combinations, particularly in the altar-pieces of the 
Roman churches, and those painted for the Benedictine com- 


The Virgin, when supported on each side by St. Peter and 
St. Paul, must be understood to represent the personified 
Church between her two great founders and defenders ; and 
this relation is expressed in a very poetical manner, when St. 
Peter, kneeling, receives the allegorical keys from the hand 
of the infant Saviour. There are some curious and beautiful 
instances of this combination of a significant action with the 
utmost solemnity of treatment : for example, in that very 
extraordinary Franciscan altar-piece by Carlo Crivelli [at one 
time in an English collection, now in the Berlin Gallery], 
where St. Peter, having deposited his papal tiara at the foot of 
the throne, kneeling receives the great symbolical keys. 1 And 
again, in a fine picture by Andrea Meldula, 2 where the Virgin 
and Child are enthroned, and the infant Christ delivers the 
keys to Peter, who stands, but with a most reverential air ; 
on the other side of the throne is St. Paul with his book and 
the sword held upright. There are also two attendant angels. 
On the border of the mantle of the Virgin is inscribed " Ave 
Maria, gratia plena." (In the collection of Mr. Bromley 3 of 
Wootten.) This picture is otherwise remarkable as the only 
authenticated work of a very rare painter. It bears his signa- 
ture, and the style indicates the end of the fifteenth century 
as the probable date. 

I do not recollect any instance in which the four evangelists 
as such, or the twelve apostles in their collective character, 
wait round the throne of the Virgin and Child, though one or 
more of the evangelists and one or more of the apostles per- 
petually occur. 

The Virgin between St. John the Baptist and St. John the 
Evangelist is also a very significant and beautiful combina- 
tion, and one very frequently met with. Though both these 
saints were, as children, contemporary with the Child Christ, 
and so represented in the Holy Families, in these solemn ideal 
groups they are always men. The first St. John expresses 
regeneration by the rite of baptism : the second St. John, 
distinguished as Theologus, " the Divine," stands with his 
sacramental cup, expressing regeneration by faith. The former 

1 [See illustration in Sacred and Legendary Art, p. 194.] 

2 [The same picture is mentioned in Sacred and Legendary Art, p. 194, as 
Ihe work of one Giulio della Mendula.] 

8 [The Bromley collection was sold in 1863.1 


was the precursor of the Saviour, the first who proclaimed him 
to the world as such; the latter beheld the vision in Patmos, 
of the Woman in travail pursued by the dragon, which is 
interpreted in reference to the Virgin and her Child. The 
group thus brought into relation is full of meaning, and, from 
the variety and contrast of character, full of poetical and 
artistic capabilities. St. John the Baptist is usually a man 
about thirty, with wild shaggy hair and meagre form, so 
draped that his vest of camel's hair is always visible ; he holds 
his reed cross. St. John the Evangelist is generally the 
young and graceful disciple ; but in some instances he is the 
venerable seer of Patmos, 

Whose beard descending sweeps his aged breast. 

There is an example in one of the finest pictures by Peru- 
gino. (Bologna Academy.) The Virgin is throned above, and 
surrounded by a glory of seraphim, with many-colored wings. 
The Child stands on her knee. In the landscape below are 
St. Michael, St. Catherine, St. Apollonia, and St. John the 
Evangelist as the aged prophet with white flowing beard. 

The Fathers of the Church, as interpreters and defenders of 
the mystery of the Incarnation, are very significantly placed 
near the throne of the Virgin and Child. In Western Art, 
the Latin doctors, St. 'Jerome, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, and 
St. Gregory, have of course the preeminence. (See Sacred 
and Legendary Art.) 

The effect produced by these aged, venerable, bearded digni- 
taries, with their gorgeous robes and mitres and flowing beards, 
in contrast with the soft simplicity of the divine Mother and 
her Infant, is, in the hands of really great artists, wonderfully 
fine. There is a splendid example, by Vivarini 1 (in the Acad- 
emy, Venice) ; the old doctors stand two on each side of the 
throne, where, under a canopy upborne by angels, sits the Vir- 
gin, sumptuously crowned and attired, and looking most serene 
and goddess-like ; while the divine Child, standing on her 
knee, extends his little hand in the act of benediction. Of 
this picture I have already given a very detailed description. 
(See Sacred and Legendary Art, p. 277.) Another example, a 
grand picture by Moretto, now in the Museum at Frankfort, I 

1 [This painting is probably the work of Giovanni and Antonio da Mnrano. 
Vide Crowe and Cavalcaselle, History of Painting in North Italy, vol. i. 
p. 27.] 


have also described. There is here a touch of the dramatic sen- 
timent : the Virgin is tenderly caressing her Child, while two 
of the old doctors, St. Ambrose and St. Augustine, stand rev- 
erently on each side of her lofty throne ; St. Gregory sits on 
the step below reading, and St. Jerome bends over and points 
to a page in his book. The Virgin is not sufficiently dignified ; 
she has too much the air of a portrait ; and the action of the 
Child is also, though tender, rather unsuited to the significance 
of the rest of the group ; but the picture is, on the whole, 
magnificent. There is another fine example of the four doc- 
tors attending on the Virgin, in the Milan Gallery, 1 a votive 
picture of the Milanese school, dedicated by Ludovico Sforza 
il Moro. 

Sometimes not four, but only two of these Fathers, appear 
in combination with other figures, and the choice would depend 
on the locality and other circumstances. But, on the whole, 
we rarely find a group of personages assembled round the 
throne of the Virgin which does not include one or more of 
these venerable pillars of the Church. St. Ambrose appears 
most frequently in the Milanese pictures : St. Augustine and 
St. Jerome, as patriarchs of monastic orders, are very popu- 
lar : St. Gregory, I think, is more seldom met with than the 

The Virgin, with St. Jerome and St. Catherine, the patron 
saints of theological learning, is a frequent group in all monas- 
teries, but particularly in the churches and houses of the Je- 
ronymites. A beautiful example is the Madonna [school of] 
Francia [in the Borghese, Rome]. St. Jerome, with Mary 
Magdalene, also a frequent combination, expresses theological 
learning in union with religious penitence and humility. Cor- 
reggio's famous picture (at Parma) is an example, where St. 
Jerome on one side presents his works in defence of the Church, 
and his translation of the Scriptures ; while, on the other, Mary 
Magdalene, bending down devoutly, kisses the feet of the infant 
Christ. 2 

Of all the attendants on the Virgin and Child, the most 

1 [The Brera catalogue of 1892 mentions two paintings of the Virgin attended 
by t lie four doctors, one by Girolamo Genga, of the Umbro-Tuscan school; an- 
other by Scarsellino of the Ferrarese school.] 

2 [See the full-page illustration in Sacred and Legendary Art, p. 352.] 


popular is, perhaps, St. Catherine ; and the " Marriage of St. 
Catherine," as a religious mystery, is made to combine with 
the most solemn and formal arrangement of the other attend- 
ant figures. The enthroned Virgin presides over the mystical 
rite. This was, for intelligible reasons, a favorite subject in 
nunneries. 1 

In a picture by Garofalo, the Child, bending from his 
mother's knee, places a golden crown on the head of St. Cath- 
erine as Sposa ; on each side stand St. Agnes and St. Jerome. 

In a picture by Carlo Maratti, the nuptials take place in 
heaven, the Virgin and Child being throned in clouds. 

If the kneeling Sjiosa be St. Catherine of Siena, the«nun, 
and not St. Catherine of Alexandria, or if the two are intro- 
duced, then we may be sure that the picture was painted for 
a nunnery of the Dominican Order. (See Legends of the Mo- 
nastic Orders, p. 390.) A fine example of this group, " the 
Spozalizio of St. Catherine of Siena," has lately been added to 
our National Gallery (Lorenzo di San Severino). 

The great Madonna in Trono by the Dominican Era Bar- 
tolommeo, wherein the queenly St. Catherine of Alexandria 
witnesses the mystical marriage of her sister saint, the nun of 
Siena, will occur to every one who has been at Florence [in 
the Pitti] ; and there is a smaller picture by the same painter 
in the Louvre : a different version of the same subject. 

I must content myself with merely referring to these well- 
known pictures, which have been often engraved, and dwell 
more in detail on another, not so well known, and, to my feel- 
ing, as preeminently beautiful and poetical, but in the early 
Flemish, not the Italian style — a poem in a language less 
smooth and sonorous, but still a poem. 

This is the altar-piece painted by Memling for the chari- 
table sisterhood of St. John's Hospital at Bruges. The Vir- 
gin is seated under a porch, and her throne decorated with 
rich tapestry ; two graceful angels hold a crown over her head. 
On the right St. Catherine, superbly arrayed as a princess, 
kneels at her side, and the beautiful infant Christ bends for- 
ward and places the bridal ring on her finger. Behind her a 
charming angel, playing on the organ, celebrates the espousals 
with hymns of joy ; beyond him stands St. John the Baptist 

1 For a detailed account of the legendary marriage of St. Catherine, and 
examples of treatment, see Sacred and Legendary Art, p. 474. 


with his lamb. On the left of the Virgin kneels St. Barbara 
reading intently ; behind her an angel with a book ; beyond 
him stands St. John the Evangelist, youthful, mild, and pen- 
sive. Through the arcades of the porch is seen a landscape 
background, with incidents picturesquely treated from the lives 
of the Baptist and the Evangelist. Such is the central com- 
position. The two wings represent, on one side, the beheading 
of St. John the Baptist; on the other, St. John the Evan- 
gelist at Patmos, and the vision of the Apocalypse. In this 
great work there is a unity and harmony of design which blends 
the whole into an impressive poem. The object was to do 
honor to the patrons of the hospital, the two St. Johns, and, at 
the same time, to express the piety of the charitable Sisters, who, 
like St. Catherine (the type of contemplative studious piety), 
were consecrated and espoused to Christ, and, like St. Barbara 
(the type of active piety), were dedicated to good works. It 
is a tradition that Memling painted this altar-piece as a votive 
offering in gratitude to the good Sisters, who had taken him 
in and nursed him when dangerously wounded : and surely, 
if this tradition be true, never was charity more magnificently 

In a very beautiful picture by Ambrogio Borgognone the 
Virgin is seated on a splendid throne ; on the right kneels St. 
Catherine of Alexandria, on the left St. Catherine of Siena : 
the Virgin holds a hand of each, which she presents to the 
divine Child seated on her knee, and to each she presents a 
ring. [National Gallery.] 

The Virgin and Child between St. Catherine and St. Barbara 
is one of the most popular, as well as one of the most beauti- 
ful and expressive, of these combinations ; signifying active 
and contemplative life, or the two powers between which the 
social state was divided in the middle ages, namely, the ecclesi- 
astical and the military, learning and arms ; St. Catherine being 
the patron of the first, and St. Barbara of the last. (Sacred 
and Legendary Art, pp. 458, 483.) When the original signifi- 
cance had ceased to be understood or appreciated, the group 
continued to be a favorite one, particularly in Germany ; and 
examples are infinite. 

The Virgin between St. Mary Magdalene and St. Barbara, 



the former as the type of penance, humility, and meditative 
piety, the latter as the type of fortitude and courage, is also 
very common. When between St. Mary Magdalene and St. 
Catherine, the idea suggested is learning, with penitence and 
humility ; this is a most popular group. So is St. Lucia with 
one of these or both : St. Lucia with her lamp or her eyes is 
always expressive of light, the light of divine wisdom. 

The Virgin between St. Nicholas and St. George is a very 
expressive group ; the former as the patron saint of merchants, 
tradesmen, and seamen, the popular saint of the bourgeoisie ; 
the latter as the patron of soldiers, the chosen saint of the 
aristocracy. Those two saints with St. Catherine are preemi- 
nent in the Venetian pictures ; for all three, in addition to 
their poetical significance, were venerated as especial protectors 
of Venice. 

St. George and St. Christopher both stand by the throne of 
the Virgin of Succor as protectors and deliverers in danger. 
The attribute of St. Christopher is the little Christ on his 
shoulder ; and there are instances in which Christ appears on 
the lap of his Mother, and also on the shoulder of the attend- 
ant St. Christopher. This blunder, if it may be so called, has 
been avoided, very cleverly I should think in his own opinion, 
by a painter who makes St. Christopher kneel, while the Vir- 
gin places the little Christ on his shoulders, a concetto quite 
inadmissible in a really religious group. 

In pictures dedicated by charitable communities we often 
find St. Nicholas and St. Leonard as the patron saints of 
prisoners and captives. Wherever St. Leonard appears he ex- 
presses deliverance from captivity. St. Omobuono, St. Mar- 
tin, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, St. Koch, or other beneficent 
saints, waiting round the Virgin with kneeling beggars, or the 
blind, the lame, the sick at their feet, always expressed the 
Virgin as the Mother of Mercy, the Consolatrix afflictorum. 
Such pictures were commonly found in hospitals, and the 
chapels and churches of the Order of Mercy, and other chari- 
table institutions. The examples are numerous. I remember 
one, a striking picture, by Bartolommeo Montagna, where the 
Virgin and Child are enthroned in the centre as usual. On 


her right, the good St. Oniobuono, dressed as a burgher, in a 
red gown and fur cap, gives alms to a poor beggar ; on the 
left, St. Francis presents a celebrated friar of his Order, Ber- 
nardino da Feltri, the first founder of a mont de piete, who 
kneels, holding the emblem of his institution, a little green 
mountain with a cross at the top. 

Besides these saints, who have a general religious character 
and significance, we have the national and local saints, whose 
presence very often marks the country or school of Art which 
produced the picture. 

A genuine Florentine Madonna is distinguished by a certain 
elegance and stateliness, and well becomes her throne. As 
patroness of Florence, in her own right, the Virgin bears the 
title of Santa Maria del Fiore, and in this character she holds 
a flower, generally a rose, or is in the act of presenting it to 
the Child. She is often attended by St. John the Baptist, as 
patron of Florence ; but he is everywhere a saint of such 
power and importance as an attendant on the divine person- 
ages, that his appearance in a picture does not stamp it as 
Florentine. St. Cosmo and St. Damian are Florentine, as the 
protectors of the Medici family ; but as patrons of the healing 
art they have a significance which renders them common in 
the Venetian and other pictures. It may, however, be deter- 
mined, that if St. John the Baptist, St. Cosmo, and St. Da- 
mian, with St. Laurence (the patron of Lorenzo the Magnifi- 
cent), appear together in attendance on the Virgin, that picture 
is of the Florentine school. The presence of St. Zenobio, or 
of St. Antonino. the patron archbishops of Florence, will set 
the matter at rest, for these are exclusively Florentine. In a 
picture by Giotto, angels attend on the Virgin bearing vases 
of lilies in their hands. (Lilies are at once the emblem of 
the Virgin and the device of Florence.) On each side kneel 
St. John the Baptist and St. Zenobio. We now possess in 
our National Gallery a very interesting example of a Floren- 
tine enthroned Madonna, attended by St. John the Baptist 
and St. Zenobio as patrons of Florence (Benozzo Gozzoli). 

A Siena Madonna would naturally be attended by St. Ber- 
nardino and St. Catherine of Siena ; if they seldom appear 
together, it is because they belong to different religious orders. 

In the Venetian pictures we find a crowd of guardian 


saints; first among them, St. Mark, then St. Catherine, St. 
George, St. Nicholas, and St. Justina : wherever these appear 
together, that picture is surely from the Venetian school. 

All through Lombardy and Piedmont, St. Ambrose of Milan 
and St. Maurice of Savoy are favorite attendants on the Vir- 

In Spanish and Flemish Art, the usual attendants on the 
queenly Madonna are monks and nuns, which brings us to the 
consideration of a large and interesting class of pictures, those 
dedicated by the various religious Orders. When we remem- 
ber that the institution of some of the most influential of 
these communities was coeval with the revival of Art ; that, 
for three or four centuries, Art in all its forms had no more 
powerful or more munificent patrons ; that they, counted 
among their various brotherhoods some of the greatest artists 
the world has seen ; we can easily imagine how the beatified 
members of these Orders have become so conspicuous as at- 
tendants on the celestial personages. To those who are accus- 
tomed to read the significance of works of Art, a single glance 
is often sufficient to decide for what Order it has been exe- 

St. Paul is a favorite saint of the Benedictine communities ; 
and there are few great pictures painted for them ill which he 
does not appear. When in companionship with St. Benedict, 
either in the original black habit or the white habit of the re- 
formed Orders, with St. Scholastica bearing her dove, with St. 
Bernard, St. Romualdo, or other worthies of this venerable 
community, the interpretation is easy. 

There is an example by Domenico Puligo. The Virgin, 
not seated, but standing on a lofty pedestal, looks down on 
her worshippers ; the Child in her arms extends the right 
hand in benediction ; with his left he points to himself, " I 
am the Kesurrection and the Life." Around are six saints, 
St. Peter, St. Paul, St. John the Baptist as protector of Flor- 
ence, St. Matthew, St. Catherine ; and St. Bernard, in his 
ample white habit, with his keen intellectual face, is about to 
write in a great book, and looks up to the Virgin for inspi- 
ration. The picture was originally painted for the Cistercians. 
It is now in the S. Maria Maddalena de' Pazzi at Florence. 
Engraved in the " Etruria Pittrice," xxxv. 


The Virgin and Child enthroned between St. Augustine 
and his mother St. .Monica, as in a line picture by Florigerio l 
(Academy, Venice), would show the picture to be painted for 
one of the numerous branches of the Augustine Order. St. 
Anthony the abbot is a favorite saint in pictures painted for 
the Augustine hermits. 

In the "Madonna del Baldacchino M of Raphael [Pitti, 
Florence], the beardless saint who stands in a white habit on 
one side of the throne is usually styled St. Bruno ; an evident 
mistake. It is not a Carthusian, but a Cistercian monk, and 
I think St. Bernard, the general patron of monastic learning. 
The other attendant saints are St. Peter, St. James, and St. 
Augustine. The picture was originally painted for the church 
of San Spirito at Florence, belonging to the Augustines. 

But St. Augustine is also the patriarch of the Franciscans 
and Dominicans, and frequently takes an influential place in 
their pictures, as the companion either of St. Francis or of 
St. Dominick, as in a picture by Fra Angelico. (Pitti, Flor- 

Among the votive Madonnas of the mendicant Orders I will 
mention a few conspicuous for beauty and interest, which will 
serve as a key to others. 

1. The Virgin and Child enthroned between St. Anthony 
of Padua and St. Clara of Assisi, as in a small elegant picture 
by Pellegrino, must have been dedicated in a church of the 
Franciscans. (Sutherland Gallery.) 

2. The Virgin blesses St. Francis, who looks up adoring : 
behind him St. Anthony of Padua ; on the other side, St. 
John the Baptist as a man, and St. Catherine. A celebrated 
but not an agreeable picture, painted by Correggio for the 
Franciscan church at Parma [and now in the] Dresden Gal- 

3. The Virgin is seated in glory ; on one side St. Francis, 
on the other St. Anthony of Padua, both placed in heaven, and 
almost on an equality with the celestial personages. Around 
are seven female figures, representing the seven cardinal vir- 
tues, bearing their respective attributes. Below are seen the 
worthies of the Franciscan Order ; to the right of the Virgin, 

1 [Catalogued to Benedetto Diana, to whom it is ascribed by Crowe and 
Cavalcaselle, wbo also quote the authority of Rosehini, Rldolfl, Sansovino, and 
Zanetti. Vidt History of I'aintiny in North Italy, vol. i. p. 226.] 


St. Elizabeth of Hungary, St. Louis of France, St. Bonaven- 
tura ; to the left, St. Ives of Bretagne, St. Eleazar, and St. 
Louis of Toulouse. (Vide Legends of the Monastic Orders.) 
Painted for the Franciscans by [Francesco] Morone and Paolo 
Cavazzola [or Morando] of Verona, 1 [and now in the Gallery 
of Verona]. This is a picture of wonderful beauty, and quite 
poetical in the sentiment and arrangement, and the mingling 
of the celestial, the allegorical, and the real personages, with a 
certain solemnity and gracefulness quite indescribable. The 
virtues,- for instance, are not so much allegorical persons as 
spiritual appearances, and the whole of the upper part of the 
picture is like a vision. 

4. The Virgin, standing on the tree of life, holds the In- 
fant ; rays of glory proceed from them on every side. St. 
Francis, kneeling at the foot of the tree, looks up in an ec- 
stasy of devotion, while a snake with a wounded and bleeding 
head is crawling away. This strange picture, painted for the 
Franciscans by Carducho, about 1625, is a representation of 
an abstract dogma (redemption from original sin), in the most 
real, most animated form, — all over life, earthly breathing 
life, — and made me start back ; in the mingling of mysticism 
and materialism it is quite Spanish. 2 

5. The Virgin and Child enthroned. [Benozzo Gozzoli.] 
On the right of the Virgin, St. John the Baptist and St. Zeno- 
bio, the two protectors of Florence. The latter wears hia 
episcopal cope richly embroidered with figures. On the left 
stand St. Peter and St. Dominick, protectors of the company 
for whom the picture was painted. In front kneel St. Jerome 
and St. Francis. This picture was originally placed in San 
Marco, a church belonging to the Dominicans. I saw and ad- 
mired this fine and valuable picture in the Kinuccini palace at 

1 [Although Morone and Cavazzola sometimes worked in partnership, the 
picture here described is assigned by Crowe and Cavalcaselle to Cavazzola alone. 
Vide History of Painting in North Italy, vol. i. p. 504.] 

2 Esterhazy Gallery, Vienna. Mr. Stirling tells us that the Franciscan friars 
of Valladolid possessed two pictures of the Virgin by Matteo de Cerezo, "in 
one of which she was represented sitting in a cherry-tree and adored by St. 
Francis. This unusual throne may perhaps have been introduced by Cerezo 
as a symbol of his own devout feelings, his patronymic being the Castilian word 
for cherry-tree." Stirling-Maxwell's Artists of Spain. There are, however, 
many prints and pictures of the Virgin and Child seated in a tree. It was one 
of the fantastic conceptions of an unhealthy period of religion and art. 


Florence in 1847; it was purchased for our National Gallery 
in [1866]. 

(>. When the Virgin or the Child holds the rosary, it is then 
B Minimi mi <lcl Uosario, and painted for the Dominicans. 
The Madonna by Murillo, in the Dulwich Gallery, is an ex- 
ample. There is an instance in which the Madonna and Child 
enthroned are distributing rosaries to the worshippers, and at- 
tended by St. Dominick and St. Peter Martyr, the two great 
saints of the Order. (Caravaggio, Belvedere Gallery, Vienna.) 

7. Very important in pictures is the Madonna as more pa^ 
ticularly the patroness of the Carmelites, under her well-known 
title of " Our Lady of Mount Carmel," or La Madonna del 
Carmine. The members of this Order received from Pope 
Honorius III. the privilege of styling themselves the " Family 
of the Blessed Virgin," and their churches are all dedicated 
to her under the title of " S. Maria del Carmine." She is gen- 
erally represented holding the infant Christ, with her robe 
outspread, and beneath its folds the Carmelite brethren and 
their chief saints. (Vide Legends of the Monastic Orders, 
" The Carmelites," p. 417.) There is an example in a picture 
by Pordenone which once belonged to Canova, and is now in 
the Academy at Venice. The Madonna del Carmine is also 
portrayed as distributing to her votaries small tablets on which 
is a picture of herself. 

8. The Virgin, as patroness of the Order of Mercy, also dis- 
tributes tablets, but they bear the badge of the Order ; and 
this distinguishes " Our Lady of Mercy," so popular in Span- 
ish Art, from " Our Lady of Mount Carmel." (Vide Legends 
of the Monastic Orders, p. 240.) 

A large class of these Madonna pictures are votive offerings 
for public or private mercies. They present some most inter- 
esting varieties of character and arrangement. 

A votive Mater Misericordiae, with the Child in her arms, is 
often standing with her wide ample robe extended, and held 
up on each side by angels. Kneeling at her feet are the vo- 
taries who have consecrated the picture, generally some com- 
munity or brotherhood instituted for charitable purposes, who, 
as they kneel, present the objects of their charity — widows, 
orphans, prisoners, or the sick and infirm. The Child, in her 
arms, bends forward with the hand raised in benediction. I 
have already spoken of the Mater Misericordia* without the 


Child. The sentiment is yet more beautiful and complete 
where the Mother of Mercy holds the infant Redeemer, the rep- 
resentative and pledge of God's infinite mercy, in her arms. 

There is a ''Virgin of Mercy," by Salvator Rosa, which is 
singular and rather poetical in the conception. She is seated 
in heavenly glory ; the infant Christ, on her knee, bends be- 
nignly forward. Tutelary angels are represented as pleading 
for mercy, with eager outstretched arms ; other angels, lower 
down, are liberating the souls of repentant sinners from tor- 
ment. The expression in some of the heads, the contrast 
between the angelic pitying spirits and the anxious haggard 
features of the Anime del Purgatorio, are very fine and ani- 
mated. Here the Virgin is the " Refuge of Sinners," Refu- 
gium Peccatorum. Such pictures are commonly met with in 
chapels dedicated to services for the dead. 

Another class of votive pictures are especial acts of thanks- 
giving, — 1st. For victory, as La Madonna delta Vittoria, 
Notre Dame des Victoires. The Virgin, on her throne, is then 
attended by one or more of the warrior saints, together with the 
patron or patroness of the victors. She is then our Lady of 
Victory. A very perfect example of these victorious Madonnas 
exists in a celebrated picture by Andrea Mantegna. The Vir- 
gin is seated on a lofty throne, embowered by garlands of fruit, 
leaves, and flowers, and branches of coral, fancifully disposed 
as a sort of canopy over her head. The Child stands on her 
knee, and raises his hand in the act of benediction. On the 
right of the Virgin appear the warlike saints, St. Michael and 
St. Maurice ; they recommend to her protection the Marquis 
of Mantua, Giovanni Francesco Gonzaga, who kneels in com- 
plete armor. 1 On the left stand St. Andrew and St. Longinus, 
the guardian saints of Mantua ; on the step of the throne the 
young St. John the Baptist, patron of the Marquis ; and, more 
in front, a female figure, seen half length, which some have 
supposed to be St. Elizabeth, the mother of the Baptist, and 
others, with more reason, the wife of the Marquis, the accom- 
plished Isabella d'Este. 2 This picture was dedicated in cele- 

1 " Qui rend graces du pretendu succes obtenu sur Charles VIII. a la bataille 
de Fornone," as the French catalogue expresses it. 

2 Both, however, may be right ; for St. Elizabeth was the patron saint of the 
Marchesana ; the head has quite the air of a portrait, and may be Isabella in 
likeness of a saint. 




bration of the victory gained by Gonzaga over the French, 
near Fornone, in 1495. 1 There is something exceedingly 
grand, and, at the same time, exceedingly fantastic and poeti- 
cal, in the whole arrangement; and besides its beauty and his- 
torical importance, it is the most important work of Andrea 
Mantegna. Gonzaga, who is the hero of the picture, was a 
poet as well as a soldier. Isabella d'Este shines conspicuously, 
both for virtue and talent, in the history of the revival of Art 
during the fifteenth century. She was one of the first who 
collected gems, antiques, pictures, and made them available for 
the study and improvement of the learned. Altogether, the 
picture is most inter- 
esting in every point of 
view. It was carried 
off by the French from 
Milan in 1797 ; and con- 
sidering the occasion on 
which it was painted, 
they must have had a 
special pleasure in pla- 
cing it in their Louvre, 
where it still remains. 

There is a very cu- 
rious and much more 
ancient Madonna of 
this class preserved at 
Siena, and styled the 
" Madonna del Voto." 
The Sienese, being at 
war with Florence, 
placed their city under 
the protection of the 
Virgin, and made a 
solemn vow that, if 

victorious, they would make over their whole territory to her 
as a perpetual possession, and hold it from her as her loyal 
vassals. After the victory of Arbia, which placed Florence 
itself for a time in such imminent danger, a picture was 

Madonna del Voto 

1 "Si les soldats avaient mieux seconde la bravoure de lenr chef, 1'armee de 
Charles VIII. etait perdue sans ressource. lis se disperserent pour piller et 
iaisserent aux Francais le temps de continuer leur route." 


dedicated by Siena to the Virgin delta Vittoria. She is en- 
throned and crowned, and the infant Christ, standing on her 
knee, holds in his hand the deed of gift. 

2dly. For deliverance from plague and pestilence, those 
scourges of the middle ages. In such pictures the Virgin is 
generally attended by St. Sebastian, with St. Roch or St. 
George, sometimes, also, by St. Cosmo and St. Damian, all of 
them protectors and healers in time of sickness and calamity. 
These intercessors are often accompanied by the patrons of the 
church or locality. 

There is a remarkable picture of this class in the Siena 
Academy, by Matteo di Giovanni [or Matteo da Siena], in 
which the Virgin and Child are throned between St. Sebastian 
and St. George, while St. Cosmo and St. Damian, dressed as 
physicians, and holding their palms, kneel before the throne. 

In a famous picture by Titian (Rome, Vatican), the Virgin 
and Child are seated in heavenly glory. She has a smiling 
and gracious expression, and the Child holds a garland, while 
angels scatter flowers. Below stand St. Sebastian, St. Nicholas, 
St. Catherine, St. Peter, and St. Francis. The picture was 
an offering to the Virgin, after the cessation of a pestilence 
at Venice, and consecrated in a church of the Franciscans dedi- 
cated to St. Nicholas. 1 

Another celebrated votive picture against pestilence is Cor- 
reggio's " Madonna di San Sebastiano." (Dresden Gallery.) 
She is seated in heavenly glory, with little angels, not so much 
adoring as sporting and hovering round her ; below are St. 
Sebastian and St. Koch, the latter asleep. (There would be 
an impropriety in exhibiting St. Roch sleeping but for the 
reference to the legend, that, while he slept, an angel healed 
him, which lends the circumstance a kind of poetical beauty.) 
St. Sebastian, bound, looks up on the other side. The intro- 
duction of St. Geminiano, the patron of Modena, shows the 
picture to have been painted for that city, which had been 
desolated by pestilence in 1512. The date of the picture is 

We may then take it for granted, that wherever the Virgin 
and Child appear attended by St. Sebastian and St. Roch, the 
picture has been a votive offering against the plague ; and 

1 San Niccolb de' Frari. since destroyed ; and the picture has been transferred 
to the Vatican. 


there is something touching in the number of such memorials 
which exist in the Italian churches. (See Sacred and Legend- 
ary Art, pp. 404, 419.) 

The brotherhoods instituted in most of the towns of Italy 
and Germany for attending the sick and plague-stricken in 
times of public calamity were placed under the protection of 
the Virgin of Mercy, St. Sebastian, and St. Koch ; and many 
of these pictures were dedicated by such communities, or by 
the municipal authorities of the city or locality. There is a 
memorable example in a picture by Guido, painted by command 
of the Senate of Bologna, after the cessation of the plague 
which desolated the city in 1630. (Academy, Bologna.) The 
benign Virgin, with her Child, is seated in the skies ; the 
rainbow, symbol of peace and reconciliation, is under her feet. 
The infant Christ, lovely and gracious, raises his right hand in 
the act of blessing ; in the other he holds a branch of olive : 
angels scatter flowers around. Below stand the guardian saints, 
the " Santi Protettori" of Bologna: St. Petronius, St. Fran- 
cis, St. Dominick ; the warrior- martyrs St. Proculus and St. 
Florian, in complete armor ; with St. Ignatius and St. Francis 
Xavier. Below these is seen, as if through a dark cloud and 
diminished, the city of Bologna, where the dead are borne 
away in carts and on biers. The upper part of this famous 
picture is most charming for the gracious beauty of the expres- 
sion, the freshness and delicacy of the color. The lower part 
is less happy, though the head of St. Francis, which is the 
portrait of Guido' s intimate friend and executor, Saulo Guidotti, 
can hardly be exceeded for intense and lifelike truth. The 
other figures are deficient in expression, and the execution 
hurried, so that on the whole it is inferior to the votive Pieta 
already described. Guido, it is said, had no time to prepare a 
canvas or cartoons, and painted the whole on a piece of white 
silk. It was carried in grand procession, and solemnly dedi- 
cated by the Senate, whence it obtained the title by which it 
is celebrated in the history of Art, " II Pallione del Voto." 

3dly. Against inundations, flood, and fire, St. George is the 
great protector. This saint and St. Barbara, who is patroness 
against thunder and tempest, express deliverance from such 
calamities, when in companionship. 

The " Madonna di San Giorgio " of Correggio (Dresden 
Gallery) is a votive altar-piece dedicated on the occasion of a 


great inundation of the river Secchia. She is seated on her 
throne, and the Child looks down on the worshippers and 
votaries. St. George stands in front victorious, his foot on 
the head of the dragon. The introduction of St. Geminiano 
tells us that the picture was painted for the city of Modena ; 
the presence of St. John the Baptist and St. Peter Martyr 
shows that it was dedicated by the Dominicans, in their church 
of St. John. (See Legends of the Monastic Orders.) 

Not less interesting are those votive Madonnas dedicated by 
the piety of families and individuals. In the family altar- 
pieces, the votary is often presented on one side by his patron 
saint, and his wife by her patron on the other. Not seldom a 
troop of hopeful sons attend the father, and a train of gentle, 
demure-looking daughters kneel behind the mother. Such 
memorials of domestic affection and grateful piety are often 
very charming ; they are pieces of family biography : 1 we 
have celebrated examples both in German and Italian Art. 

1. The " Madonna della Famiglia Bentivoglio " was painted 
[in 1488] by Lorenzo Costa for Giovanni II., lord or tyrant 
of Bologna from 1462 to 1506. The history of this Giovanni 
is mixed up in an interesting manner with the revival of art 
and letters; he was a great patron of both, and among the 
painters in his service were Francesco Francia and Lorenzo 
Costa. The latter painted for him his family chapel in 
the church of San Giacomo at Bologna ; and, while the Benti- 
vogli have long since been chased from their native terri- 
tory, their family altar still remains untouched, unviolated. 
The Virgin, as usual, is seated on a lofty throne bearing her 
divine Child ; she is veiled, no hair seen, and simply draped, 
she bends forward with mild benignity. To the right of the 
throne kneels Giovanni with his four sons ; on the left his 
wife, attended by six daughters: all are portraits, admirable 
studies for character and costume. Behind the daughters, the 
head of an old woman is just visible — according to tradition, 
the old nurse of the family. 

.2. Another most interesting family Madonna is that of 
Ludovico Sforza il Moro, painted for the church of Sant' Am- 
brogio at Milan by an unknown painter of the school of 

1 Several are engraved, as illustrations, in Litta's great History of the Italian 


Leonardo, 1 and now in the gallery of the Brera. The Virgin 
sits enthroned, richly dressed, with long fair hair hanging 
down, and no veil or ornament ; two angels hold a crown over 
her head. The Child lies extended on her knee. Hound her 
throne are the four fathers, St. Ambrose, St. Gregory, St. 
Jerome, and St. Augustine. In front of the throne kneels 
Ludovico il Moro, duke of Milan, in a rich dress and unarmed ; 
Ambrose, as protector of Milan, lays his hand upon his shoul- 
der. At his side kneels a boy about five years old. Opposite 
to him is the duchess, Beatrice d'Este, also kneeling ; and near 
her a little baby in swaddling clothes, holding up its tiny 
hands in supplication, kneels on a cushion. The age of the 
children shows the picture to have been painted about 1496. 
The fate of Ludovico il Moro is well known : perhaps the 
blessed Virgin deemed a traitor and an assassin unworthy of 
her protection. He died in the frightful prison of Loches 
after twelve years of captivity ; and both his sons, Maximilian 
and Francesco, were unfortunate. With them the family of 
Sforza and the independence of Milan were extinguished to- 
gether in 1535.. 

3. Another celebrated and most precious picture of this 
class is the Virgin of the Meyer family, painted by Holbein 2 
for the burgomaster Jacob Meyer of Basle. 3 (Dresden Gallery.) 
According to a family tradition, the youngest son of the bur- 
gomaster was sick even to death, and, through the merciful 
intercession of the Virgin, was restored to his parents, who, in 
gratitude, dedicated this offering. She stands on a pedestal in 
a richly ornamented niche ; over her long fair hair, which falls 
down her shoulders to her waist, she wears a superb crown ; 
and her robe of a dark greenish blue is confined by a crimson 
girdle. In purity, dignity, humility, and intellectual grace, 
this exquisite Madonna has never been surpassed, not even by 
Raphael ; the face, once seen, haunts the memory. The child 
in her arms is generally supposed to be the infant Christ. I 
have fancied, as I look on the picture, that it may be the poor 
sick child recommended to her mercy, for the face is very 
pathetic, the limbs not merely delicate but attenuated, while, 

1 [Catalogued to Bernardino dei Conti.] 

2 [Art critics are now of the opinion that the Dresden picture is a copy of 
the original painting by Holbein in the Grand Ducal Palace, Darmstadt.] 

■ The engraving by Steinle is justly celebrated. 


on comparing it with the robust child who stands below, the 
resemblance and the contrast are both striking. To the right 
of the Virgin kneels the burgomaster Meyer with two of his 
sons, one of whom holds the little brother who is restored to 
health, and seems to present him to the people. On the left 
kneel three females — the mother, the grandmother, and one 
daughter. All these are portraits, touched with that homely, 
vigorous truth, and finished with that consummate delicacy, 
which characterized Holbein in his happiest efforts ; and, with 
their earnest but rather ugly and earthly faces, contrasting 
with the divinely compassionate and refined being who looks 
down on them with an air so human, so maternal, and yet so 

Sometimes it is a single votary who kneels before the Ma- 
donna. In the old times he expressed his humility by placing 
himself in a corner and making himself so diminutive as to 
be scarce visible ; afterwards, the head of the votary or donor 
is seen life size, with hands joined in prayer, just above the 
margin at the foot of the throne, care being taken to remove 
him from all juxtaposition with the attendant saints. But 
as the religious feeling in Art declined, the living votaries are 
mingled with the spiritual patrons — the "human mortals" 
with the " human immortals " — with a disregard to time and 
place which, if it be not so lowly in spirit, can be rendered 
by a great artist strikingly poetical and significant. 

1. The renowned " Madonna di Foligno," one of Raphael's 
masterpieces, is a votive picture of this class. It was dedi- 
cated by Sigismund Conti of Foligno, private secretary to 
Pope Julius II., and a distinguished man in other respects, a 
writer and a patron of learning. It appears that Sigismund, 
having been in great danger from a meteor or thunderbolt, 
vowed an offering to the blessed Virgin, to whom he attributed 
his safety, and in fulfilment of his vow consecrated this precious 
picture. In the upper part of the composition sits the Virgin 
in heavenly glory ; by her side the infant Christ, partly sus- 
tained by his mother's veil, which is drawn round his body ; 
both look down benignly on the votary Sigismund Conti, who, 
kneeling below, gazes up with an expression of the most intense 
gratitude and devotion. It is a portrait from the life, and 
certainly one of the finest and most lifelike that exist in paint- 



ing. Behind liini stands St. Jerome, who, plac i ng his hand 
upon the head of the votary, seems to present him to his 
celestial protectress. On the opposite side John the Bap- 
tist, the meagre wild-looking prophet of the desert, points 
upward to the Redeemer, More; in front kneels St. Francis, 
■who, while he looks np to heaven with trusting and imploring 
love, extends his right hand towards the worshippers supposed 
to he assembled in the church, recommending them also to the 
protecting grace of the Virgin. In the centre of the picture, 
dividing these two groups, stands a lovely angel-boy holding 
in his hand a tablet, one of the most charming figures of this 
kind Raphael ever painted ; the head, looking up, has that sub- 
lime yet perfectly childish grace which strikes us in those awful 
angel-boys in the " Madonna di San Sisto." The background 
is a landscape, in which appears the city of Foligno at a dis- 
tance ; it is overshadowed by a storm-cloud, and a meteor is 
seen falling ; but above these bends a rainbow, pledge of peace 
and safety. The whole picture glows throughout with life 
and beauty, hallowed by that profound religious sentiment 
which suggested the offering, and which the sympathetic artist 
seems to have caught from the grateful donor. It was dedi- 
cated in the church of the Ara-Coeli at Rome, which belongs 
to the San Franciscans ; hence St. Francis is one of the prin- 
cipal figures. When I was asked, at Home, why St. Jerome 
had been introduced into the picture, I thought it might be 
thus accounted for : The patron saint of the donor, St. Sigis- 
mund, was a king and a warrior, and Conti might possibly 
think that it did not accord with his profession, as an humble 
ecclesiastic, to introduce him here. The most celebrated con- 
vent of the Jeronymites in Italy is that of St. Sigismund near 
Cremona, placed under the special protection of St. Jerome, 
who is also in a general sense the patron of all ecclesiastics; 
hence, perhaps, he figures here as the protector of Sigismund 
Conti. The picture was painted, and placed over the high 
altar of the Ara-Coeli in 1511, when Raphael was in his twenty- 
eighth year. Conti died in 1512, and in 1565 his grand- 
niece, Suora Anna Conti, obtained permission to remove it 
to her convent at Foligno, whence it was carried off by the 
French in 1792. Since the restoration of the works of Art 
in Italy, in 1815, it has been placed among the treasures of 
the Vatican. 


2. Another perfect specimen of a votive picture of this kind, 
in a very different style, I saw in the Museum at Rouen, at- 
tributed there to Van Eyck. It is, probably, a fine work by 
a later master of the school, perhaps Memling. In the centre, 
the Virgin is enthroned ; the Child, seated on her knee, holds 
a bunch of grapes, symbol of the eucharist. On the right of 
the Virgin is St. Apollonia ; then two lovely angels in white 
raiment, with lutes in their hands ; and then a female head, 
seen looking from behind, evidently a family portrait. More 
in front, St. Agnes, splendidly dressed in green and sable, her 
lamb at her feet, turns with a questioning air to St. Catherine, 
who, in queenly garb of crimson and ermine, seems to consult 
her book. Behind her another member of the family, a man 
with a very fine face ; and more in front St. Dorothea, with a 
charming expression of modesty, looks down on her basket of 
roses. On the left of the Virgin is St. Agatha; then two 
angels in white with viols ; then St. Cecilia, and near her a 
female head, another family portrait ; next, St. Barbara wear- 
ing a beautiful headdress, in front of which is worked her 
tower, framed like an ornamental jewel in gold and pearls ; 
she has a missal in her lap. St. Lucia next appears ; then 
another female portrait. All the heads are about one fourth 
of the size of life. I stood in admiration before this picture 
— such miraculous finish in all the details, such life, such 
spirit, such delicacy in the heads and hands, such brilliant 
color in the draperies ! Of its history I could learn nothing, 
nor what family had thus introduced themselves into celestial 
companionship. The portraits seemed to me to represent a 
father, a mother, and two daughters. 

I must mention some other instances of votive Madonnas, 
interesting either from their beauty or their singularity. 

3. Rene', duke of Anjou, and king of Sicily and Jerusalem, 
the father of our Amazonian queen, Margaret of Anjou, dedi- 
cated, in the church of the Carmelites, at Aix, the capital of 
his dominions, a votive picture, which is still to be seen there. 
It is not only a monument of his piety, but of his skill ; for, 
according to the tradition of the country, he painted it himself. 
The good King Rene was no contemptible artist, but though 
he may have suggested the subject, the hand of a practiced 
and accomplished painter is too apparent for us to suppose it 
his own work. 


This altar-piece is a triptychon, and when the doors are 
closed it measures twelve feet in height, and seven feet in 
width. On the outside of the doors is the Annunciation : to 
the left, the angel standing on a pedestal, under a Gothic 
canopy ; to the right, the Virgin standing with her book, under 
a similar canopy : both graceful figures. On opening the doors, 
the central compartment exhibits the Virgin and her Child 
enthroned in a burning bush ; the bush which burned with 
fire, and was not consumed, being a favorite type of the im- 
maculate purity of the Virgin. Lower down, in front, Moses 
appears surrounded by his flocks, and at the command of an 
angel is about to take off his sandals. The angel is most 
richly dressed, and on the clasp of his mantle is painted in 
miniature Adam and Eve tempted by the serpent. Under- 
neath this compartment is the inscription, " Rubum quem 
viderat Moyses, incombustum, conservatam agnovimus tuam 
laudabilem Virginitatem, Sancta Dei Genitrix." * On the 
door to the right of the Virgin kneels King Rend himself before 
an altar, on which lie an open book and his kingly crown. 
He is dressed in a robe trimmed with ermine, and wears a 
black velvet cap. Behind him, Mary Magdalene (the patroness 
of Provence), St. Anthony, and St. Maurice. On the other 
door, Jeanne de Laval, the second wife of Rend, kneels before 
an open book ; she is young and beautiful, and richly attired ; 
and behind her stand St. John (her patron saint), St. Cath- 
erine (very noble and elegant), and St. Nicholas. I saw this 
curious and interesting picture in 1846. It is very well pre- 
served, and painted with great finish and delicacy in the man- 
ner of the early Flemish school. 

4. In a beautiful little picture by Van Eyck, in the Louvre, 
the Virgin is seated on a throne, holding in her arms the in- 
fant Christ, who has a globe in his left hand, and extends the 
right in the act of benediction. The Virgin is attired as a 
queen, in a magnificent robe falling in ample folds around her, 
and trimmed with jewels ; an angel, hovering with outspread 
wings, holds a crown over her head. On the left of the pic- 
ture, a votary, in the dress of a Flemish burgomaster, kneels 
before a priedieu, on which is an open book, and with clasped 
hands adores the Mother and the Child. The locality repre- 
sents a gallery or portico paved with marble, and sustained by 
1 For the relation of Moses to the "Virgin (as attribute) vide the Introduction. 


pillars in a fantastic Moorish style. The whole picture is quite 
exquisite for the delicacy of color and execution. In the [old] 
catalogue of the Louvre this picture [was] entitled " St. Joseph 
adoring the Infant Christ ; " [but in the edition of 1889 (by 
F. Villot) it is correctly entered as La Vjerge au Donateur]. 

5. All who have visited the church of the Frari at Venice 
will remember — for once seen, they never can forget — the 
ex-voto altar-piece which adorns the chapel of the Pesaro 
family. The beautiful Virgin is seated on a lofty throne to 
the right of the picture, and presses to her bosom the Dio 
Bambinetto, who turns from her to bless the votary presented 
by St. Peter. The saint stands on the steps of the throne, 
one hand on a book ; and behind him kneels one of the Pesaro 
family, who was at once bishop of Paplios and commander of 
the Pope's galleys : he approaches to consecrate to the Ma- 
donna the standards taken from the Turks, which are borne by 
St. George, as patron of Venice. On the other side appear 
St. Francis and St. Anthony of Padua, as patrons of the church 
in which the picture is dedicated. Lower down, kneeling 
on one side of the throne, is a group of various members 
of the Pesaro family, three of whom are habited in crimson 
robes, as Cavalieri di San Marco ; the other, a youth about 
fifteen, looks out of the picture, astonishingly alive, and yet 
sufficiently idealized to harmonize with the rest. This picture 
is very remarkable for several reasons. It is a piece of family 
history, curiously illustrative of the manners of "the time. 
The Pesaro here commemorated was an ecclesiastic, but ap- 
pointed by Alexander VI. to command the galleys with which 
he joined the Venetian forces against the Turks in 1503. It 
is for this reason that St. Peter — as representative here of the 
Roman pontiff — introduces him to the Madonna, while St. 
George, as patron of Venice, attends him. The picture is a 
monument of the victory gained by Pesaro, and the gratitude 
and pride of his family. It is also one of the finest works of 
Titian ; one of the earliest instances in which a really grand 
religious composition assumes almost a dramatic and scenic 
form, yet retains a certain dignity and symmetry worthy of its 
solemn destination. 1 

1 We find in the catalogue of pictures which belonged to our Charles I. one 
[also by Titian] which represented "a pope preferring a general of his navy to 
St. Peter." It is Pope Alexander VI. presenting this very Pesaro to St. Peter; 


6. I will give one more instance. There is in our National 
Gallery a Venetian picture which is striking from its peculiar 
and characteristic treatment. On one side, the Virgin with her 
Infant is seated on a throne ; a cavalier, wearing armor and a 
turban, who looks as if he had just returned from the Eastern 
wars, prostrates himself before her : in the background, a page 
(said to be the portrait of the painter) holds the horse of the 
votary. The figures are life size, or nearly so, as well as I can 
remember, and the sentimental dramatic treatment is quite Ve- 
netian. It is supposed to represent a certain ])uccio Constanzo 
of Treviso, and was once attributed to Giorgione : it is cer- 
tainly of the school of Bellini. [The National Gallery offi- 
cial catalogue of 1894 classifies the picture under the " school 
of Giovanni Bellini," adding the note that some attribute it to 
Vincenzo Catena.] 

As these enthroned and votive Virgins multiplied, as it be- 
came more and more a fashion to dedicate them as offerings in 
churches, want of space, and perhaps, also, regard to expense, 
suggested the idea of representing the figures half length. 
The Venetians, from early time the best face-painters in the 
world, appear to have been the first to cut off the lower part 
of the figure, leaving the arrangement otherwise much the 
same. The Virgin is still a queenly and majestic creature, sit- 
ting there to be adored. A curtain or part of a carved chair 
represents her throne. The attendant saints are placed to the 
right and to the left ; or sometimes the throne occupies one 
side of the picture, and the saints are ranged on the other. From 
the shape and diminished size of these votive pictures, the per- 
sonages, seen half length, are necessarily placed very near to each 
other, and the heads nearly on a level with that of the Virgin, 
who is generally seen to the knees, while the Child is always 
full length. In such compositions we miss the grandeur of the 
entire forms, and the consequent diversity of character and 
attitude ; but sometimes the beauty and individuality of the 
heads atone for all other deficiencies. 

In the earlier Venetian examples, those of Gian Bellini par- 

that is, in plain unpictorial prose, giving him the appointment of admiral of the 
galleys of the Roman states. This interesting picture, after many vicissitudes, 
is now in the Museum at Antwerp. 


ticularly, there is a solemn quiet elevatien which renders them 
little inferior, in religious sentiment, to the most majestic of 
the enthroned and enskied Madonnas. 

There is a sacred group by Bellini, [once] in the possession 
of Sir Charles Eastlake, which has always appeared to me a 
very perfect specimen of this class of pictures. It is also the 
earliest I know of. The Virgin, pensive, sedate, and sweet, 
like all Bellini's Virgins, is seated in the centre, and seen in 
front. The Child, on her knee, blesses with his right hand, 
and the Virgin places hers on the head of a votary, who just 
appears above the edge of the picture, with hands joined in 
prayer ; he is a fine young man with an elevated and elegant 
profile. On the right are St. John the Baptist pointing to the 
Saviour, and St. Catherine ; on the left, St. George with his 
banner, and St. Peter holding his book. [The picture was 
sold out of the Eastlake collection in 1894, and is now in the 
possession of the Hon. C. Seale-Hayne, Eaton Square, London.] 
A. similar picture, with Mary Magdalene and St. Jerome on 
the right, St. Peter and St. Martha on the left, is in the Leuch- 
tenberg- Gallery at Munich. Another of exquisite beauty is in 
the Venice Academy, in which the lovely St. Catherine wears 
a crown of myrtle. 

Once introduced, these half-length enthroned Madonnas be- 
came very common, spreading from the Venetian states through 
the north of Italy ; and we find innumerable examples from 
the best schools of Art in Italy and Germany, from the middle 
of the fifteenth to the middle of the sixteenth century. I 
shall particularize a few of these, which will be sufficient to 
guide the attention of the observer ; and we must carefully 
discriminate between the sentiment proper to these half-length 
enthroned Madonnas, and the pastoral or domestic sacred groups 
and Holy Families, of which I shall have to treat hereafter. 

Raphael's well-known Madonna della Seggiola (Pitti, Flor- 
ence) and Madonna della Candelabra [Munro - Butler - John- 
stone collection, London] 1 are both enthroned Virgins in the 
grand style, though seen half length. In fact, the hair of the 
head ought, in the higher schools of Art, at once to distinguish a 
Madonna in trono, even where only the head is visible. 

1 [This Madonna is included in the list of those works whose execution in the 
opinion of Miintz shows the hand of a pupil.] 



The Child, standing or seated on a table or balustrade in 
front, enabled the painter to vary the attitude, to take the in- 
fant Christ out of the arms of the Mother, and to render his 
figure more prominent. It was a favorite arrangement with 
the Venetians ; and there is an instance in a pretty picture in 
our National Gallery, attributed to l'erugino. 

Sometimes, even where the throne and the attendant saints 
and angels show the group to be wholly devotional and ex- 
alted, we find the sentiment varied by a touch of the dramatic 
— by the introduction of an action ; but it must be one of a 
wholly religious significance suggestive of a religious feeling, 
or the subject ceases to be properly devotional in character. 

The illustration is from a picture by Botticelli, before which, 
in walking up the corridor of the Florence Gallery, I used, 
day after day, to make an involuntary pause of admiration. 
The Virgin, seated in a chair of state, but seen only to the 
knees, sustains her divine Son with one arm ; four angels are 
in attendance, one of whom presents an inkhorn, another holds 
before her an open book, and she is in the act of writing the 
Magnificat, " My soul doth magnify the Lord ! " The head 
of the figure behind the Virgin is the portrait of Lorenzo de' 
Medici when a boy. In the original picture by Botticelli 
there is absolutely no beauty of feature, either in the Madonna 
or the Child or the angels, yet every face is full of dignity 
and character. 

In a beautiful picture by Titian, in the Belvedere at Vienna, 
the Virgin is enthroned on the left, and on the right appear St. 
George and St. Laurence 1 as listening, while St. Jerome reads 
from his great book. 

A family group is sometimes treated in this grand style, but 
the symmetry of the arrangement and the sentiment show the 
picture to be devotional. 

The old German and Flemish painters, in treating the en- 
throned Madonna, sometimes introduced accessories which no 
painter of the early Italian school would have descended to ; 
and which tinge with a holy sentiment their most exalted 
conceptions. Thus, I have seen, in the Belvedere Gallery at 

1 [Crowe and Cavalcaselle call this figure St. Stephen. A similar painting in 
the Louvre represents the Virgin and Child with St. Stephen, St. Ambrose, and 
St. Maurice.] 


Vienna, a German Madonna, seated on a superb throne, and most 
elaborately and gorgeously arrayed, pressing her Child to her 
bosom with a truly maternal air ; while beside her, on a table, 
are a honeycomb, some butter, a dish of fruit, and a glass of 
water. It is possible that in this case, as in the Virgin suck- 
ling her Child, there may be a religious allusion, — " Butter 
and honey shall he eat." [Compare the Madonna by Quentin 
Massys in Berlin.] 

The Mater Amabilis 

Ital. La Madonna col Bambino. La Madonna col celeste suo 
Figlio. Fr. La Vierge et l'Enfant Jesus. Ger. Maria mit dem 

There is yet another treatment of the Madonna and Child, 
in which the Virgin no longer retains the lofty goddess-like 
exaltation given to her in the old time. She is brought nearer 
to our sympathies. She is not seated in a chair of state with 
the accompaniments of earthly power ; she is not enthroned on 
clouds, nor glorified and star-crowned in heaven ; she is no 
longer so exclusively the Vergine Dea, nor the Virgo Dei 
Genitrix ; but she is still the Alma Mater Redemptoris, 
the young, and lovely, and most pure mother of a divine 
Christ. She is not sustained in mid-air by angels ; she dwells 
lowly on earth ; but the angels leave their celestial home to 
wait upon her. Such effigies, when conceived in a strictly 
ideal and devotional sense, I shall designate as the Mater 

The first and simplest form of this beautiful and familiar 
subject we find in those innumerable half-length figures of 
the Madonna holding her Child in her arms, painted chiefly 
for oratories, private or wayside chapels, and for the studies, 
libraries, and retired chambers of the devout, as an excitement 
to religious feeling, and a memorial of the mystery of the 
Incarnation, where large or grander subjects, or more expen- 
sive pictures, would be misplaced. Though unimportant in 
comparison with the comprehensive and magnificent church 
altar-pieces already described, there is no class of pictures so 
popular and so attractive, none on which the character of the 
time and the painter is stamped more clearly and intelligibly, 
than on these simple representations. 

The Virgin is not here the dispenser of mercy ; she is sim- 



ply the mother of the 
Redeemer, She is oc- 
cupied only by her di- 
vine Son. She caresses 
him, or she gazes on 
him fondly. She pre- 
sents him to the wor- 
shipper. She holds him 
forth with a pensive joy 
as the predestined otler- 
ing. If the profound 
religious sentiment of 
the early masters was 
afterwards obliterated 
by the unbelief and 
conventionalism of later 
Art, still this favorite 
subject could not be so 
wholly profaned by de- 
grading sentiments and 
associations as the mere 
portrait heads of the Virgin alone, 
for the Madonna might have been, 
dina of Frascati, a Venetian Zitella, a Madchen of Nuremberg, 
a buxom Flemish Frow, — for the Child was there ; the baby 
innocence in her arms consecrated her into that " holiest thing 
alive," a mother. The theme, however inadequately treated 
as regarded its religious significance, was sanctified in itself 
beyond the reach of a profane thought. Miserable beyond 
the reach of hope, dark below despair, that moral atmosphere 
which the presence of sinless unconscious infancy cannot for a 
moment purify or hallow ! 

Among the most ancient and most venerable of the effigies 
of the Madonna, we find the old Greek pictures of the Matpr 
AmabiliSj if that epithet can be properly applied to the 
dark-colored, sad-visaged Madonnas generally attributed to St. 
Luke, or transcripts of those said to be painted by him, which 
exist in so many churches, and are, or were, supposed by the 
people to possess a peculiar sanctity. These are almost all of 
oriental origin, or painted to imitate the pictures brought from 
the East in the tenth or twelfth century. There are a few 

Greco-Italian Madonna 

No matter what the model 
— a wife, a mistress, a conta- 



striking and genuine examples of these ancient Greek Ma- 
donnas in the Florentine Gallery, and, nearer at hand, in the 
Wallerstein collection at Kensington Palace. They much re- 
semble each other in Ihe general treatment. 

[There are many] renowned Greek pictures, all of which 
have the credit of performing stupendous miracles, and claim 
a fabulous antiquity. Yet of the many miracle-working Ma- 
donnas in Italy popularly attributed to St. Luke, few are either 
of Greek workmanship or very ancient. Thus the Virgin of the 
Ara-Coeli is undoubtedly as Greek, and old, and black, and ugly, 
as sanctity could desire ; while the rival Madonna in Santa 
Maria-in-Cosmedino, dark as it is in color, is yet most lovely 
[see below] ; both Mother and Child are full of grace and 

refined expression ; but though an 
undoubted " original St. Luke," 
like many original Raphaels and 
Titians, it is not even a softened 
copy of a Greek model ; the sen- 
timent is altogether Italian, as 
may be seen in this sketch. The 
sketch on p. 167 is from an an- 
cient fresco at Perugia. 

The infinite variety which 
painters have given to this most 
simple motif, the Mother and 
the Child only, without accesso- 
ries or accompaniments of any 
kind, exceeds all possibility of 
classification, either as to attitude 
or sentiment. Here Raphael 
shone supreme : the simplicity, 
the tenderness, the halo of purity 
and virginal dignity, which he 
threw round the Mater Amabilis, have never been surpassed 
— in his best pictures never equalled. The " Madonna del 
Gran-Duca" [Pitti, Florence], where the Virgin holds the 
Child seated on her arm ; the " Madonna Tempi " [Munich], 
where she so fondly presses her cheek to his — are perhaps 
the most remarkable for simplicity. The Madonna of the 
Bridgewater Gallery, where the infant lies on her knees, and 
the Mother and Son look into each other's eyes ; the little 

Greco-Italian Madonr 



M Madonna Conestabile " [St. Petersburg], where she holds 
the book, and the infant Christ, with a serious yet perfectly 
childish grace, bends to turn over the leaf — are the most re- 
markable for sentiment. 

Other Madonnas by' Raphael, containing three or more fig- 
ures, do not belong to this class of pictures. They are not 
strictly devotional, but are properly Holy Families, groups 
and scenes from the domestic life of the Virgin. 

With regard to other painters before or since his time, the 
examples of the Mater Am ah His so abound in public and pri- 
vate galleries, and have been so multiplied in prints, that 

Madonna (Squarcione) 

comparison is within reach of every observer. " I will content 
myself with noticing a few of the most remarkable for beauty 
or characteristic treatment. Two painters, who eminently 
excelled in simplicity and purity of sentiment, are Gian 
Bellini of Venice, and Bernardino Luini of Milan. Squar- 
cione, though often fantastic, has painted one or two of these 
Madonnas, 1 remarkable for simplicity and dignity, as also his 
pupil Mantegna : though in both the style of execution is 
somewhat bard and cold. In this, by Fra Bartolommeo, there 

1 [The illustration is from a painting by Squarcione in the Berlin Gallery.] 



is such a depth of maternal tenderness in the expression and 
attitude, we wonder where the good monk found his model. 
In his own heart ? in his dreams ? A Hater Amabilis by- 
one of the Caracci or 
by Vandyck is gener- 
ally more elegant and 
dignified than tender. 
Murillo excelled in this 
subject ; although most 
of his Virgins have a 
portrait air of common 
life, they are redeemed 
by the expression. In 
one of these, the Child, 
looking out of the pic- 
ture with extended arms 
and eyes full of divinity, 
seems about to spring 
forth to fulfil his mis- 
sion. [Pitti, Florence.] 
In another he folds his 
little hands, and looks 
up to heaven, as if de- 
voting himself to his ap- 
pointed suffering, while 
the Mother looks down 
upon him with a tender 
resignation. 1 In a noble Madonna by Vandyck (Bridgewater 
Gallery, London), it is she herself who devotes him to do his 
Father's will ; and I still remember a picture of this class, 
by Carlo Cignani (Belvedere Gallery, Vienna), which made 
me start, with the intense expression : the Mother presses to 
her the Child, who holds a cross in his baby hand ; she looks 
up to heaven with an appealing look of love and anguish — 
almost of reproach. Guido did not excel so much in children 
as in the Virgin alone. Poussin, Carlo Dolci, Sassoferrato, 
and, in general, all the painters of the seventeenth century, 
give us pretty women and pretty children. We may pass them 

1 [The reference is to a painting in the Leuchtenberg Gallery, St. Petersburg, 
which, though a beautiful picture, is not considered by Curtis the work of 

Madonna (Bartolommeo) 



Madonna (Albert Diirer) 

over. [The Mater Amabilis is perhaps the most common 
form of the Madonna seen in modern Art. Examples of wide 
popularity are by Gabriel .Max and by Froschl. These, too, 
may be " passed over " as having little or nothing in common 
with the work of the old masters.] 

A second version of the Matei Amabilis, representing the 
Virgin and Child full length, but without accessories, has 


been also very beautifully treated. She is usually seated 
in a landscape, and frequently within the mystical inclosure 
(Hortus clausus), which is sometimes in the German pictures 
a mere palisade of stakes or boughs, as in the example after 
Albert Diirer. 

Andrea Mantegna, though a fantastic painter, had generally 
some meaning in his fancies. There is a fine picture of his in 

Madonna della Seggiola (Raphael) 

which the Virgin and Child are seated in a landscape, and in 
the background is a stone quarry, where a number of figures 
are seen busily at work, perhaps hewing the stone to build the 
new temple of which our Saviour was the corner-stone. (Ufnzi, 
Florence.) In a group by Cristofano Allori the Child places 
a wreath of flowers on the brow of his Mother, holding in his 



other hand his own crown of thorns: one of the fancies of 
the Liter schools of Art. 

[Two modetn examples of the Mater Amabilis in a landscape: 

1. Carl Mliller: The Madonna of the Grotto. Tender and 
simple, characterized by the strong devotional sentiment of the 

2. Dagnan-Bouveret. The Virgin stands under the over- 
arching trees of a wooded path, clasping her child in her arms. 
The Ixibe's face is turned from the spectator. Although it is 

Madonna (Lucas van Lcyden) 

a very striking picture, there is nothing about the Mother or 
Child to suggest the divine meaning except the aureoles sur- 
rounding the heads.] 

The introduction of the little St. John into the group of the 
Virgin and Child lends it a charming significance and variety, 
and is very popular ; we must, however, discriminate between 
the familiarity of the domestic subject and the purely religious 
treatment. When the Giovannino adores with folded hands, 
as acknowledging in Christ a superior power, or kisses his feet 
humbly, or points to him exulting, then it is evident that we 



Madonna (Bellini) 

have the two Children in their spiritual character, the Child, 
Priest and King, and the Child, Prophet. 

In a picture by Leonardo da Yinci, the Madonna, serious 
and beautiful, without either crown or veil, and adorned only 
by her long fair bair, is seated on a rock. On one side, the 
little Christ, supported in the arms of an angel, raises his hand 
in benediction ; on the other side, the young St. John, pre- 
sented by the Virgin, kneels in adoration. [Called the Virgin 
of the Rocks. In the National Gallery.] 

Where the Children are merely embracing each other, or 



sporting at the feet of the Virgin, or playing with tho cross, 
or with a bird, oi with the lamb, 01 with flowers, we might 
call tlif, treatment domestic or poetical ; but where St. John 
18 taking the cross from the hand of Christ, it is clear, from 
the perpetual repetition of the theme, that it is intended to 
express a religions allegory. It is the mission of St. John as 
Baptist and Prophet. He receives the symbol of faith ere he 

Madonna of the Meadow (Raphael) 

goes forth to preach and to convert ; or, as it has been inter- 
preted, he, in the sense used by our Lord, " takes up the cross 
of our Lord." The first is, I think, the meaning when the 
cross is en wreathed with the Ecce Agnus Del; the latter, 
when it is a simple cross. 

In Raphael's " Madonna della Famiglia Alva," now in the 
Hermitage, St. Petersburg, 1 and in his Madonna of the Vienna 
Gallery, Christ gives the cross to St. John. In a picture of 
the Leonardo school in the Louvre we have the same action; 
and again in a graceful group by Guido, which, in the engrav- 
ing, bears this inscription, " Qui non accipit crucem suam non 
1 [Also known as the Madonna della Casa Alba.] 


est me dignus " (Matt. x. 38). This, of course, fixes the 

Another, and, as I think, a wholly fanciful interpretation, 
has been given to this favorite group by Tieck and by Monckton 
Milnes. The Children contend for the cross. The little St. 
John begs to have it. 

Give me the cross, I pray you, dearest Jesus! 

Oh if you knew how much I wished to have it, 

You would not hold it in your hand so tightly. 

Something has told me, something in my breast here, 

Which I am sure is true, that if you keep it, 

If you will let no other take it from you, 

Terrible things I cannot bear to think of 

Must fall upon you. Show me that you love me: 

Am I not here to he your little servant, 

Follow your steps, and wait upon your wishes ? 

But Christ refuses to yield the terrible plaything, and claims 
his privilege to be the elder " in the heritage of pain." 

In a picture by Carlo Maratti I think this action is evident. 
Christ takes the cross, and St. John yields it with reluctance. 

A beautiful version of the Mater Amabilis is the Madre 
Pia, where the Virgin in her divine Infant acknowledges and 
adores the Godhead. We must be careful to distinguish this 
subject from the Nativity, for it is common, in the scene of 
the birth of the Saviour at Bethlehem, to represent the Virgin 
adoring her new-born Child. The presence of Joseph — the 
ruined shed or manger — the ox and ass — these express the 
event. But in the Madre Pia properly so called, the locality, 
and the accessories, if any, are purely ideal and poetical, and 
have no reference to time or place. The early Florentines, 
particularly Lorenzo di Credi, excelled in this charming subject. 

There is an example [in the Pitti, Florence, attributed to 
Filippino Lippi] which appears to me eminently beautiful and 
poetical. Here the mystical garden is formed of a balustrade, 
beyond which is seen a hedge all in a blush with roses. The 
Virgin kneels in the midst, and adores her Infant, who has (in 
the original) his finger on his lip (Verbum sum!) ; an angel 
scatters rose-leaves over him, while the little St. John also 
kneels, and four angels, in attitudes of adoration, complete the 

But a more perfect example is the Madonna by Francia in 



Madonna (Correggio) 

the Munich Gallery, where the divine Infant' lies on the flow- 
ery turf, and the Mother, standing before him and looking 
down on him, seems on the point of sinking on her knees in a 
transport of tenderness and devotion. This, to my feeling, is 
one of the most perfect pictures in the world ; it leaves nothing 
to be desired. With all the simplicity of the treatment it is 
strictly devotional. The Mother and her Child are placed 
within the mystical garden inclosed in a treillage of roses, 
alone with each other, and apart from all earthly associations, 
all earthly communion. 

The beautiful altar-piece by Perugino in our National Gal- 
lery is properly a Madre Via ; the Child seated on a cushion is 
sustained by an angel ; the mother kneels before him. 



The famous Correggio in the Uffizi, Florence, is also a Madre 
Pia. It is very tender, sweet, and maternal. The Child lying 
on part of his mother's blue mantle, so arranged that while 
she kneels and bends over him she cannot change her attitude 
without disturbing him, is a concetto admired by critics in sen- 
timent and Art ; but it appears to me very inferior and com- 
monplace in comparison to the Francia at Munich. 

Madonna (Filippo Lippi) 

In this group [by Filippo Lippi, in the Uffizi, Florence], 
angels sustain the Infant, while the Mother, seated, with folded 
hands, adores him ; and in a favorite composition by Guido he 

And, lastly, we have the Mater Amabilis in a more complex 
and picturesque, though still devotional, form. The Virgin, 


Been at full Length; reclines on a verdant Lank, or is seated 
under a tree. She is not alone with her Child. Holy per- 
sonages, admitted to a communion with her, attend around her, 
rather sympathizing than adoring. The love of varied nature, 
the love of life under all its aspects, become mingled with the 
religious conception. Instead of carefully avoiding whatever 
may remind us of her earthly relationship, the members of her 
family always form a part of her cortege. This pastoral and 
dramatic treatment began with the Venetian and Paduan 
schools, and extended to the early German schools, which 
were allied to them in feeling, though contrasted with them in 
form and execution. 

The perpetual introduction of St. Joseph, St. Elizabeth, and 
other relatives of the Virgin (always avoided in a Madonna 
in tronoY would compose what is called a Holy Family, but 
that the presence of sainted personages whose existence and 
history belong to a wholly different era — St. Catherine, St. 
George, St. Francis, or St. Dominick — takes the composition 
out of the merely domestic and historical, and lifts it at once 
into the ideal and devotional line of Art. Such a group can- 
not well be styled a Sacra Familla ; it is a Sacra Conversa- 
zione treated in the pastoral and lyrical rather than the lofty 
epic style. 

In this subject the Venetians, who first introduced it, 1 excel 
all other painters. There is no example by Raphael. The 
German and Flemish painters who adopted this treatment were 
often coarse and familiar ; the later Italians became flippant 
and fantastic. The Venetians alone knew how to combine the 
truest feeling for nature with a sort of Elysian grace. 

X shall give a few examples. 

I! In a picture by Titian, 2 the Virgin is seated on a green 
bank enamelled with flowers. She is simply dressed like a 
eontadina } in a crimson tunic, and a white veil half shading 
her fair hair. She holds in her arms her lovely Infant, who 
raises his little hand in benediction. . St. Catherine kneels 
before him on one side; on the other, St. Barbara. St. John 
the Baptist, not as a child, and the contemporary of our Saviour, 

1 [Crowe and Cavalcaselle consider Palma Vecchio the real inventor of the 
lar<ri' Sacra Conversazione.] 

- [Woermann's 1892 Dresden catalogue contains no picture of this descrip- 
tion attributed to Titian.] 



but in likeness of an Arcadian shepherd, kneels with his cross 
and his lamb — the Ecce Agnus Dei, expressed, not in words, 
but in form. St. George stands by as a guardian warrior. 
And St. Joseph, leaning on his stick behind, contemplates the 
group with an air of dignified complacency. (Dresden Gal- 

2. There is another instance, also from Titian. In a most 
luxuriant landscape thick with embowering trees, and the 
mountains of Cadore in the background, the Virgin is seated 
on a verdant bank ; St. Catherine has thrown herself on her 
knees, and stretches out her arms to the divine Child in an 

Sacra Conversazione (Palma) 

ecstasy of adoration, in which there is nothing unseemly or 
familiar. At a distance St. John the Baptist approaches with 
his lamb. 

3. In another very similar group [in the National Gallery ; 
replica, perhaps by C. Vecelli, in the Pitti, Florence] the action 
of St. Catherine is rather too familar — it is that of an elder 
sister or a nurse : the young St. John kneels in worship. 

4. Wonderfully fine is a picture of this class by Palma, now 
in the Dresden Gallery. The noble, serious, sumptuous loveli- 
ness of the Virgin ; the exquisite Child, so thoughtful, yet so 
infantine ; the manly beauty of the St. John ; the charming 


humility of the St. Catherine as she presents her palm, form 
one of the most perfect groups in the world. Childhood, mo- 
therhood, maidenhood, manhood, were never, I think, combined 
in so sweet a spirit of humanity. 1 

5. In another picture by Talma, in the same gallery, we 
have the same picturesque arrangement of the Virgin and Child, 
while the little St. John adores with folded hands, and St. 
Catherine sits by in tender contemplation. 

This Arcadian sentiment is carried as far as could well be 
allowed in a picture by Titian in the Louvre, known as the 
Vievge an La phi. The Virgin holds a white rabbit, towards 
which the infant Christ, in the arms of St. Catherine, eagerly 
stretches his hand. In a picture by Paris Bordone it is car- 
ried, I think, too far. The Virgin reclines under a tree with 
a book in her hand ; opposite to her sits St. Joseph holding 
an apple ; between them, St. John the Baptist, as a bearded 
man, holds in his arms the infant Christ, who caressingly puts 
one arm round his neck, and with the other clings to the rough 
hairy raiment of his friend. 

It will be observed that in these Venetian examples St. 
Catherine, the beloved protectress of Venice, is seldom omitted. 
She is not here the learned princess who confounded tyrants 
and converted philosophers, but a bright-haired, full-formed 
Venetian maiden, glowing with love and life, yet touched with 
a serious grace, inexpressibly charming. 

St. Dorothea is also a favorite saint in these sacred pastorals. 
There is an instance [by Titian] in which she is seated by the 
Virgin with her basket of fruits and flowers ; and St. Jerome, 
no longer beating his breast in penance, but in likeness of a 
fond old grandfather, stretches out his arms to the Child. 
Much liner is a picture [by Bonifazio, once] in the possession 
of Sir Charles Eastlake. 2 The lovely Virgin is seated under 
a tree : on one side appears the angel Raphael, presenting 
Tc^bit ; on the other, St. Dorothea, kneeling, holds up her 
basket of celestial fruit, gathered for her in Paradise. (See 

1 When I was at Dresden, in 1850, I found Steinle, so celebrated for his 
engravings of the Madonna di San Sisto and the Holbein Madonna, employed 
on this picture; and, as far as his art could go, transferring to his copper all the 
fervor and the ttorbideMXa of the original. 

2 [The picture was sold out of the Eastlake collection in 1894, to Messrs. 
Agnew & Sons.] 


Sacred and Legendary Art, p. 557, for the beautiful legend of 
St. Dorothea.) 

When St. Ursula, with her standard, appears in these Ve- 
netian pastorals, we may suppose the picture to have been 
painted for the famous brotherhood (Scuola di Sant' Orsola) 
which bears her name. Thus, in a charming picture by Palma 
(Vienna, Belvedere Gallery), she appears before the Virgin, 
accompanied by St. Mark as protector of Venice. 1 

Ex-voto pictures in this style are very interesting, and the 
votary, without any striking impropriety, makes one of the 
Arcadian group. Very appropriate, too, is the marriage of St. 
Catherine, often treated in this poetical style. In a picture 
by Titian, the family of the Virgin attend the mystical rite, 
and St. Anna places the hand of St. Catherine in that of the 

In a group by Signorelli, Christ appears as if teaching St. 
Catherine; he dictates, and she, the patroness of " divine 
philosophy," writes down his words. 

When the later painters in their great altar-pieces imitated 
this idyllic treatment, the graceful Venetian conception became 
in their hands heavy, mannered, tasteless — and sometimes 
worse. The monastic saints or mitred dignitaries, introduced 
into familiar and irreverent communion with the sacred and 
ideal personages, in spite of the grand scenery, strike us as at 
once prosaic and fantastic: "we marvel how they got there." 
Parmigiano, when he fled from the sack of Rome in 1527, 
painted at Bologna, for the nuns of Santa Margherita, an altar- 
piece which has been greatly celebrated. The Madonna, hold- 
ing her Child, is seated in a landscape, under a tree, and turns 
her head to the Bishop St. Petronius, protector of Bologna. 
St. Margaret, kneeling and attended by her great dragon, places 
one hand, with a free and easy air, on the knee of the Virgin, 
and with the other seems to be about to chuck the infant 
Christ under the chin. In a large picture by Giacomo Francis, 
the Virgin, walking in a flowery meadow with the infant Christ 
and St. John, and attended by St. Agnes and Mary Magdalene, 
meets St. Francis and St. Dominick also, apparently, taking a 
walk. (Berlin Gallery.) And again — the Madonna and St. 
Elizabeth meet with their children in a landscape, while St. 

1 [There is no picture of this description attributed to Palma in the Belvedere 
catalogue of 1894.] 

THE lIATBfi AM A I :i LIS 183 

Peter, St. Paul, and St. Benedict stand behind in attitudes of 
attention and admiration. Now, such pictures may be excel- 
lently well painted, greatly praised by connoisseurs, and held 
in " somma venerations" but they are offensive as regards 
the religious feeling, and are, in point of taste, mannered, fan- 
tastic, and secular. 

Here we must end our discourse concerning the Virgin and 
Child as a devotional subject. Very easily and delightfully to 
the writer, .perhaps not painfully to the reader, might we have 
gone on to the end of the volume ; but my object was not to 
exhaust the subject, to point out every interesting variety of 
treatment, but to lead the lover of Art, wandering through a 
church or gallery, to new sources of pleasure ; to show what 
infinite shades of feeling and character may still be traced in 
a subject which, with all its beauty and attractiveness, might 
seem to have lost its significant interest, and become trite from 
endless repetition ; to lead the mind to some perception of the 
intention of the artist in his work — under what aspect he 
had himself contemplated and placed before the worshipper 
the image of the Mother of Christ — whether crowned and 
enthroned as the sovereign lady of Christendom, or exalted as 
the glorious empress of heaven and all the spiritual world ; or, 
bending benignly over us, the impersonation of sympathizing 
womanhood, the emblem of relenting love, the solace of suffer- 
ing humanity, the maid and mother, dear and undefiled — 

Created beings all in lowliness 
Surpassing, as in height above them all. 

It is time to change the scene — to contemplate the Virgin, 
as she has been exhibited to us in the relations of earthly life, 
as the mere woman, acting and suffering, loving, living, dying, 
fulfilling the highest destinies in the humblest state, in the 
meekest spirit. So we begin her history as the ancient artists 
have placed it before us, with that mingled naivete and rever- 
ence, that vivid dramatic power, which only faith, and love, 
and genius united, could impart. 



The Legend of Joachim and Anna 

Ital. La Leggenda di Sant' Anna Madre della Gloriosa Vergine 
Maria, e di San Gioacchino. 

Of the sources whence are derived the popular legends of the 
life of the Virgin Mary, which, mixed up with the few notices 
in Scripture, formed one continuous narrative, authorized by 
the priesthood, and accepted and believed in by the people, I 
have spoken at length in the Introduction. We have now to 
consider more particularly the scenes and characters associated 
with her history ; to show how the artists of the middle ages, 
under the guidance and by the authority of the Church, treated 
in detail these favorite themes in ecclesiastical decoration. 

In early Art, that is, up to the end of the fifteenth century, 
Joachim and Anna, the parents of the Virgin, never appear 
except in the series of subjects from her life. In the devo- 
tional groups and altar-pieces they are omitted. St. Bernard, 
the great theological authority of those times, objects to the 
invocation of any saints who had lived before the birth of 
Christ, consequently to their introduction into ecclesiastical edi- 
fices in any other light than as historical personages. Hence, 
perhaps, there were scruples relative to the representations of 
St. Anna, which, from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century, 
placed the artists under certain restrictions. 

Under the name of Anna, the Church has honored, from 
remote times, the memory of the mother of the Virgin. The 
Hebrew name, signifying Grace, or the Gracious, and all the 
conditions concerning her, came to us from the East, where she 
was so early venerated as a saint that a church was dedicated 
to her by the Emperor Justinian in 550. Several other 
churches were subsequently dedicated to her in Constantinople 


during the sixth and seventh centuries, and her remains are 
said to have been deposited there in 710. In the West, she 
first became known in the reign of Charlemagne ; and the 
Greek apocryphal gospels, or at least stories and extracts from 
them, began to be circulated about the same period. From 
these are derived the historic scenes and legendary subjects 
relating to Joachim and Anna which appear in early Art. It 
was about 1500, in the beginning of the sixteenth century, 
that the increasing veneration for the Virgin Mary gave to her 
parents, iimrft__psppp.ia.l ly f,Q St. A nnn ; p.p.lp.hrity as 

patron iajntsj nml t|ip.y became, thwwrfwwwii m niin fre quent 

cl i aracters~"m ~]the sacred groi ip T ^^ ^* g t of St Anna was 

nlremly genernl nmjj>"pnlnr throughout Europe long before it 
was reTutel-etPooHgatory in 1584. * The growing enthusiasm 
lor the doctr me'ot the imin nr 1l1ntp ConcapiaQB gaifl, °f course. 
additional splen dor and importance to her character . Still, it 
is only in later times that we find the effigy of St. Anna sepa- 
rated from that of the Virgin. There is a curious picture by 
Cesi, in the Bologna Gallery, in which St. Anna kneels befo re 
a vision nflw dpn ghter beforp. sh pr7s~^nojr n_— -_tlift~yirgin of 
tbfr~i immaculate. Qonr.p ption — A fine model ofabeardeoPliran 
Tfas now^sometimes converted into a St. Joachim reading or 
meditating, instead of a St. Peter or a St. Jerome, as heretofore. 
In the Munich Gallery are two fine, ancient-looking figures 
of St. Joachim the father and St. Joseph the husband of the 
Virgin, standing together ; but all these, as separate represen- 
tations, are very uncommon ; and of those which exhibit St. 
Anna devotionally, as enthroned with the Virgin and Child, 
I have already spoken. Like St. Elizabeth, she should be an 
elderly, but not a 'very old woman. Joachim, in such pic- 
tures, never appears but as an attendant saint, and then very 
rarely ; always very old, and sometimes in the dress of a priest, 
which, however, is a mistake on the part of the artist. 

A complete series of the history of the Blessed Virgin, as 
imaged forth by the early artists, always begins with the 
legend of Joachim and Anna, which is thus related. 

" There was a man of Nazareth, whose name was Joachim, 
and he had for his wife a woman of Bethlehem, whose name 

1 In England we have twenty-eight churches dedicated in the name of St. 


was Anna, and both were of the royal race of David. Their 
lives were pure and righteous, and they served the Lord with 
singleness of heart. And, being rich, they divided their sub- 
stance into three portions, one for the service of the temple, 
one for the poor and the strangers, and the third for their house- 
hold. On a certain feast-day, Joachim brought double offer- 
ings to the Lord according to his custom, for he said, ' Out of 
my superfluity will I give for the whole people, that I may 
find favor in the sight of the Lord, and forgiveness for my 
sins.' And when the children of Israel brought their gifts, 
Joachim also brought his ; but the high priest Issachar stood 
over against him and opposed him, saying, ' It is not lawful 
for thee to bring thine offering, seeing that thou hast not begot 
issue in Israel.' And Joachim was exceeding sorrowful, and 
went down to his house ; and he searched through all the reg- 
isters of the twelve tribes to discover if he alone had been 
childless in Israel. And he found that all the righteous men, 
and the patriarchs who had lived before him, had been the fa- 
thers of sons and daughters. And he called to mind his 
father Abraham, to whom in his old age had been granted a 
son, even Isaac. 

" And Joachim was more and more sorrowful : and he would 
not be seen by his wife, but avoided her, and went away into 
the pastures where were the shepherds and the sheep-cotes. 
And he built himself a hut, and fasted forty days and forty 
nights ; for he said, ' Until the Lord God look upon me merci- 
fully, prayer shall be my meat and my drink.' 

" But his wife Anna remained lonely in her house, and 
mourned with a twofold sorrow, for her widowhood and for 
her barrenness. 

" Then drew near the last day of the feast of the Lord ; and 
Judith her handmaid said to Anna, '• How long wilt thou thus 
afflict thy soul ? Behold, the feast of the Lord is come, and 
it is not lawful for thee thus to mourn. Take this silken 
fillet, which was bestowed on me by one of high degree whom 
I formerly served, and bind it round thy head, for it is not 
fit that I who am thy handmaid should wear it, but it is 
fitting for thee, whose brow is as the brow of a crowned queen.' 
And Anna replied, ' Begone ! such things are not for me, for 
the Lord has humbled me. As for this fillet, some wicked 
person hath given it to thee ; and art thou come to make me 


a partaker in thy sin ? * And Judith her maid answered, 
; What evil shall I wish thee since thou wilt not hearken to 
my voice ? for worse I cannot wish thee than that with which 
the Lord hath afflicted thee, seeing that he hath shut up thy 
womb, that thou shouldst not be a mother in Israel/ 

" And Anna, hearing these words, was sorely troubled. 
And she laid aside her mourning garments, and she adorned 
her head, and put on her bridal attire ; and at the ninth hour 
she went forth into her garden, and sat down under a laurel- 
tree and prayed earnestly. And looking up to heaven she 
saw within the laurel bush a sparrow's nest ; and mourning 
within herself, she said, i Alas ! and woe is me ! who hath be- 
gotten me ? who hath brought me forth ? that I should be 
accursed in the sight of Israel and scorned and shamed before 
my people, and cast out of the temple of the Lord ! Woe is 
me ! to what shall I be likened ? I cannot be likened to the 
fowls of heaven, for the fowls of heaven are fruitful in thy 
sight, Lord ! Woe is me ! to what shall I be likened ? 
Not to the unreasoning beasts of the earth, for they are fruit- 
ful in thy sight, Lord ! Woe is me ! to what shall I be 
likened ? Not to these waters, for they are fruitful in thy 
sight, Lord ! Woe is me ! to what shall I be likened ? 
Not unto the earth, for the earth bringeth forth her fruit in 
due season, and praiseth thee, O Lord ! ' 

"And behold, an angel of the Lord stood by her and said, 
1 Anna, thy prayer is heard ; thou shalt bring forth, and thy 
child shall be blessed throughout the whole world.' And 
Anna said, ' As the Lord liveth, whatever I shall bring forth, 
be it a man-child or a maid, I will present it an offering to 
the Lord.' And behold, another angel came and said to her, 
1 See, thy husband Joachim is coming with his shepherds ; * 
for an angel had spoken to him also, and had comforted him 
with promises. And Anna went forth to meet her husband, and 
Joachim came from the pasture with his herds, and they met 
at the golden gate ; and Anna ran and embraced her husband, 
and hung upon his neck, saying, f Now know I that the Lord 
hath blessed me. I who was a widow am no longer a widow ; 
I who was barren shall become a joyful mother.' 

" And they returned home together. 

" And when her time was come, Anna brought forth a 
daughter, and she said, ' This day my soul magnifieth the 



Lord/ And she laid herself down on her bed ; and she 
called the name of her child Mary, which in the Hebrew is 

With the scenes of this beautiful pastoral begins the life of 
the Virgin. 

1. We have first Joachim rejected from the temple. He 
stands on the steps before the altar holding a lamb, and the 
high priest opposite to him with arm upraised appears to refuse 

Joachim rejected from the Temple (Taddeo Gaddi) 

his offering. Such is the usual motif ; but the incident has 
been variously treated — in the earlier and ruder examples, 
with a ludicrous want of dignity ; for Joachim is almost 
tumbling down the steps of the temple to avoid the box on 
the ear which Issachar the priest is in the act of bestowing in 
a most energetic fashion. On the other hand, the group by 
Taddeo Gaddi (Florence, Baroncelli chapel, S. Croce), though 
so early in date, has not since been excelled, either in the 


grace or the dramatic significance of the treatment. Joachim 
turns away, with his lamb in his arms, repulsed, but gently, 
by the priest. To the right are three personages who bring 
offerings ; one of them, prostrate on his knees, yet looks up at 
Joachim with a sneering expression - — a fine representation of 
the pharisaical piety of one of the elect, rejoicing in the humili- 
ation of a brother. On the other side are three persons who 
appear to be commenting on the scene. In the more elaborate 
composition by Ghirlandajo (Florence, S. Maria Novella) there 
is a grand view into the interior of the temple, with arches 
richly sculptured. Joachim is thrust forth by one of the at- 
tendants, while in the background the high priest accepts the 
offering of a more favored votary. On each side are groups 
looking on, who express the contempt and hatred they feel 
for one who, not having children, presumes to approach the 
altar. All these, according to the custom of Ghirlandajo, are 
portraits of distinguished persons. The first figure on the 
right represents the painter Baldovinetti ; next to him, with 
his hand on his side, Ghirlandajo himself ; the third, with 
long black hair, is Bastiano Mainardi, who painted the As- 
sumption in the Baroncelli chapel in the Santa Croce ; and 
the fourth, turning his back, is David Ghirlandajo. These 
real personages are so managed that, while they are not them- 
selves actors, they do not interfere with the main action, but 
rather embellish and illustrate it, like the chorus in a Greek 
tragedy. Every single figure in this fine fresco is a study for 
manly character, dignified attitude, and easy grand drapery. 

In the same scene by Albert Diirer, in the set of woodcuts 
of the Life of the Virgin, the high priest, standing behind a 
table, rejects the offering of the lamb, and his attendant pushes 
away the doves. Joachim makes a gesture of despair, and 
several persons who bring offerings look at him with disdain 
or with sympathy. 

The same scene by Luini (Milan, Brera) is conceived with 
much pathetic as well as dramatic effect. But as I have said 
enough to render the subject easily recognized, we proceed. 

2. " Joachim herding his sheep on the mountain, and sur- 
rounded by his shepherds, receives the message of the angel. w 
This subject may so nearly resemble the Annunciation to the 
Shepherds in St. Luke's Gospel that we must be careful to 
distinguish them, as, indeed, the best of the old painters have 
done with great taste and feeling. 


111 the fresco by Taddeo Gaddi (in the Baroncelli chapel) 
Joachim is seated on a rocky mountain, at the base of which 
his sheep are feeding, and turns round to listen to the voice 
of the angel. In the fresco by Giotto in the Arena at Padua 
the treatment is nearly the same. 1 In the series by Luini a 
stream runs down the centre of the picture : on one side is 
Joachim listening to the angel ; on the other, Anna is walking 
in her garden. This incident is omitted by Ghirlandajo. In 
Albert Durer's composition Joachim is seen in the foreground 
kneeling, and looking up at an angel, who holds out in both 
hands a sort of parchment roll looking like a diploma with 
seals appended, and which we may suppose to contain the 
message from on high (if it be not rather the emblem of the 
sealed book, so often introduced, particularly by the German 
masters). A companion of Joachim also looks up with amaze- 
ment, and farther in the distance are sheep and shepherds. 

The Annunciation to St. Anna may be easily mistaken for 
the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary. We must therefore be 
careful to discriminate, by an attention to the accessories. 
Didron observes that in Western Art the Annunciation to St. 
Anna usually takes place in a chamber. In the East it takes 
place in a garden, because there " on vit peu dans les maisons 
et beaucoup en plein air ; " but, according to the legend, the 
locality ought to be a garden, and under a laurel-tree, which is 
not always attended to. 

3. The altercation between St. Anna and her maid Judith I 
have never met with but once, in the series by Luini (Milan, 
Brera), where the disconsolate figure and expression of St. 
Anna are given with infinite grace and sentiment. 

4. " The meeting of Joachim and Anna before the golden 
gate." This is one of the most important subjects. It has 
been treated by the very early artists with much naivete, and 
in the later examples with infinite beauty and sentiment ; and, 
which is curious, it has been idealized into a devotional sub- 
ject, and treated apart. The action is in itself extremely sim- 
ple. The husband and wife affectionately and joyfully embrace 
each other. In the background is seen a gate, richly orna- 
mented. Groups of spectators and attendants are sometimes, 
not always, introduced. 

1 The subject will be found in the set of woodcuts published by the Arundel 


Meeting of Joachim and Anna (Albert Durer) 

In the composition of Albert Durer [series, " Life of the 
Virgin "] nothing can be more homely, hearty, and conjugal. 
A burly fat man, who looks on with a sort of wondering 
amusement in his face, appears to be a true and animated tran°- 


script from nature, as true as Ghirlandajo's attendant figures 
— but how different ! what a contrast between the Florentine 
citizen and the German burgher ! In the simpler composition 
by Taddeo Gaddi, St. Anna is attended by three women, among 
whom the maid Judith is conspicuous, and behind Joachim is 
one of his shepherds. In two compartments of a small altar- 
piece (which probably represented in the centre the Nativity 
of the Virgin) I found on one side the story of St. Joachim, 
on the other the story of St. Anna. (Collection of Lord 
North wick. 1 ) 

The Franciscans, those enthusiastic defenders of the Im- 
maculate Conception, were the authors o f a fantastic idea, that 
the bijiJi__QLjDhe_Yirgiirwas not only immaculate, but alto- 
gether miraculoiis/aiid. that s he owed her being to the joyful 
kiss which Joachim gave his wife when they met at the gate. 
-^-^ursirThe~Churcli gave no countenance to this strange 
poetical fiction, but it certainly modified some of the repre- 
sentations : for example, there is a picture by Vittore Carpaccio 
[in the Venice Academy], wherein St. Joachim and Anna ten- 
derly embrace. On one side stands St. Louis of Toulouse as 
bishop ; on the other St. Ursula with her standard, whose pres- 
ence turns the incident into a religious mystery. In another 
picture, painted by Ridolfo Ghirlandajo, we have a still more 
singular and altogether mystical treatment. In the centre St. 
Joachim and St. Anna embrace ; behind St; Joachim stands St. 
Joseph with his lily wand and a book ; behind St. Anna, the 
Virgin Mary (thus represented as existing before she was 
born 2 ), and beyond her St. Laurence; in the corner is seen 
\ the head of the votary, a Servite monk ; above all, the Padre 
Eterno holds an open book with the Alpha and Omega. This 
singular picture was dedicated and placed over the high altar 
of the Conception in the church of the Servi, who, under the 
title of Serviti di Maria, were dedicated to the especial ser- 
vice of the Virgin Mary. {Vide Legends of the Monastic 
Orders, p. 232.) 

1 [The collection of Lord Northwick was dispersed in the sale of 1859. Vide 
Redford's Soles, vol. i. p. 157.] 

2 Prov. viii. 22, 23. These texts are applied to the Madonna. 



The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin 

Ital. La Nascita della B. Vergine. Fr. La Naissance de la S. 
Vierge. Ger. Die Geburt Maria. 

This is, of course, a very important subject. It is some- 
times treated apart as a separate scene ; and a series of pictures 
dedicated to the honor of the Virgin, and comprising only a 
few of the most eventful scenes in her history, generally begins 
with her Nativity. The primitive treatment is Greek, and, 
though varied in the details and the sentiment, it has never 
deviated much from the original motif. 

^^^^gjgjjga ia fs mwmimiNMt&s. 

Birth of the Virgin (Greco-Italian) 

St. Anna reclines on a couch covered with drapery, and a 
pillow under her head ; two handmaids sustain her ; a third 
fans her, or presents refreshments ; more in front a group of 
woman are busied about the new-born child. It has been the 


custom, I know not on what authority, to introduce neighbors 
and friends, who come to congratulate the parents. The whole 
scene thus treated is sure to come home to the bosom of the 
observer. The most important event in the life of a woman, 
her most common and yet most awful experience, is here so 
treated as to be at once ennobled by its significance, and en- 
deared by its thoroughly domestic character. 

I will give some examples. 1. The first is after an unknown 
master of the Greco-Italian school, and referred by D'Agin- 
court to the thirteenth century, but it is evidently later, and 
quite in the style of the Gaddi. 

2. There is both dignity and simplicity in the fresco by 
Taddeo Gaddi. (Florence, Baroncelli chapel.) St. Anna is 
sitting up in bed ; an attendant pours water over her hands. 
In front, two women are affectionately occupied with the child, 
a lovely infant with a glory round its head. Three other 
attendants are at the foot of the bed. 

3. We have next in date the elegant composition by Ghir- 
landajo. [Santa Maria Novella, Florence.] As Joachim and 
Anna were " exceedingly rich," he has surrounded them with 
all the luxuries of life. The scene is a chamber richly deco- 
rated ; a frieze of angelic boys ornaments the alcove ; St. Anna 
lies on a couch. Vasari says " certain women are ministering 
to her ; " but in Lasinio's engraving they are not to be found. 
In front a female attendant pours water into a vase ; two 
others seated hold the infant. A noble lady, habited in the 
elegant Florentine costume of the fifteenth century, enters with 
four others — all portraits, and, as is usual with Ghirlandajo, 
looking on without taking any part in the action. The lady 
in front is traditionally said to be Ginevra Benci, celebrated 
for her beauty. 

4. The composition by Albert Dlirer, in the series, "Life 
of the Virgin Mary," gives us an exact transcript of antique 
German life, quite wonderful for the homely truth of the de- 
lineation, but equally without the simplicity of a scriptural or 
the dignity of an historical scene. In an old-fashioned German 
chamber lies St. Anna in an old-fashioned canopied bedstead. 
Two women bring her a soup and something to drink, while the 
midwife, tired with her exertions, leans her head on the bed- 
stead, and has sunk to sleep. A crowd of women fill up the 
foreground, one of whom attends to the new-born child ; others, 


who appear to have watched through the night, as we may 
suppose from the nearly extinguished caudles, are intent on 
good cheer ; they congratulate each other ; they eat, drink, and 
repose themselves. It would be merely a scene of German 
oommerage, full of nature and reality, if an angel hovering 
above and swinging a censer did not remind us of the sacred 
importance of the incident represented. 

5. In the strongest possible contrast to the homely but ani- 
mated conception of Albert Diirer is the grand fresco by 
Andrea del Sarto, in the church of the Nunziata at Florence. 
The incidents are nearly the same : we have St. Anna reclining 
in her bed and attended by her women ; the nurses waiting on 
the lovely new-born child ; the visitors who enter to congratu- 
late ; but all, down to the handmaidens who bring refresh- 
ments, are noble and dignified, and draped in that magnificent 
taste which distinguished Andrea. Angels scatter flowers from 
above, and, which is very uncommon, Joachim is seen, after 
the anxious night, reposing on a couch. Nothing in fresco 
can exceed the harmony and brilliancy of the coloring, and 
the softness of the execution. It appeared to me a master- 
piece as a picture. Like Ghirlandajo, Andrea has introduced 
portraits ; and in the Florentine lady who stands in the fore- 
ground we recognize the features of his worthless wife, Lu- 
crezia, the original model of so many of his female figures 
that the ignoble beauty of her face has become quite familiar. 

Although the Nativity of the Virgin Mary is one of the great 
festivals of the Roman Catholic Church, I have seldom seen it 
treated as a separate subject and an altar-piece. There is, how- 
ever, a very remarkable example in the Belle Arti at Siena. It 
is a triptych inclosed in a framework elaborately carved and 
gilt, in the Gothic style. In the centre compartment, St. Anna 
lies on a rich couch covered with crimson drapery ; a graceful 
female presents an embroidered napkin, others enter, bringing 
refreshments, as usual. In front, three attendants minister to 
the Infant : one of them is in an attitude of admiration ; on the 
right, Joachim seated, with white hair and beard, receives the 
congratulations of a young man who seems to envy his paternity. 
In the compartment on the right stand St. James Major and 
St. Catherine ; on the left, St. Bartholomew and St. Elizabeth 
of Hungary (?). This picture is in the hard primitive style of 
the fourteenth century, by an unknown painter, who must have 


lived before Giovanni di Paolo, but vividly colored, exquisitely 
finished, and full of sentiment and dramatic feeling. 

The Presentation of the Virgin 

Ital. La Presentazione, ove nostra Signora piccioletta sale i gradi 
del Tempio. Ger. Joachim und Anna weihen ihre Tochter 
Maria im Tempel. Die Vorstellung der Jungfrau im Tempel. 
(Nov. 21.) 

In the interval between the birth of Mary and her consecra- 
tion in the temple there is no incident which I can remember 
as being important or popular as a subject of Art. 

It is recorded with what tenderness her mother Anna watched 
over her, "how she made of her bedchamber a holy place, 
allowing nothing that was common or unclean to enter in ; " 
and called to her " certain daughters of Israel, pure and gentle, 
whom she appointed to attend on her." In some of the early 
miniature illustrations of the Offices of the Virgin St. Anna 
thus ministers to her child ; for instance, in a beautiful Greek 
MS. in the Vatican she is tenderly putting her into a little 
bed or cradle, and covering her up. 1 

It is not said anywhere that St. Anna instructed her daugh- 
ter. It has even been regarded as unorthodox to suppose 
that the Virgin, enriched from her birth, and before her birth, 
with all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, required instruction from 
any one. Nevertheless, the subject of the " Education of the 
Virgin" has been often represented in later times. There 
is a beautiful example by Murillo (Madrid Gallery) ; while 
Anna teaches her child to read, angels hover over them with 
wreaths of roses. Another by Rubens, in which, as it is 
said, he represented his young wife, Helena Forman. (Musde, 
Antwerp.) There is also a picture in which St. Anna minis- 
ters to her daughter, and is intent on braiding and adorning 
her long golden hair, while the angels look on with devout 
admiration. (Vienna, Lichtenstein Gallery.) In all these 
examples Mary is represented as a girl of ten or twelve years 
old. Now, as the legend expressly relates that she was three 
years old when she became an inmate of the temple, such rep- 
resentations must be considered as incorrect. 

The narrative thus proceeds : — 

1 It is engraved in D'Agincourt. 


" And when the child was three years old, Joachim said, 
'Let us invite the daughters of Israel, and they shall take 
each a taper or a lamp, and attend on her, that the child may 
not turn back from the temple of the Lord/ And being 
come to the temple, they placed her on the first step, and she 
ascended alone all the steps to the altar : and the high priest 
received her there, kissed her, and blessed her, saying, 
* Mary, the Lord hath magnified thy name to all generations, 
and in thee shall be made known the redemption of the chil- 
dren of Israel.' And being placed before the altar, she 
danced with her feet, so that all the house of Israel rejoiced 
with her, and loved her. Then her parents returned home, 
blessing God because the maiden had not turned back from 
the temple. n 

Such is the incident, which, in artistic representation, is 
sometimes styled the "Dedication," but more generally "The 
Presentation of the Virgin." 

It is a subject of great importance, not only as a principal 
incident in a series of the Life of the Virgin, but because this 
consecration of Mary to the service of the temple being taken 
in a general sense, it has often been given in a separate form, 
particularly for the nunneries. Hence it has happened that 
we find " The Presentation of the Virgin " among some of the 
most precious examples of ancient and modern Art. 

The motif does not vary. The child Mary, sometimes in a 
blue, but oftener in a white vesture, with long golden hair, as- 
cends the steps which lead to the porch of the temple, which 
steps are always fifteen in number. She ought to be an infant 
of three years of age ; but in many pictures she is represented 
older, veiled, and with a taper in her hand instead of a lamp, 
like a young nun ; but this is a fault. The " fifteen steps n 
rest on a passage in Josephus, who says, " between the wall 
which separated the men from the women, and the great 
porch of the temple, were fifteen steps ; w and these are the 
steps which Mary is supposed to ascend. 

1. It is sometimes treated with great simplicity ; for in- 
stance, in the bas-relief by Andrea Orcagna there are only 
three principal figures — the Virgin in the centre (too old, 
however), and Joachim and Anna stand on each side. (Flor- 
ence, Or San Michele.) 


In the fresco by Taddeo Gaddi we have the same artless 
grace, the same dramatic grouping, and the same faults of 
drawing and perspective, as in the other compartments of the 
series. (Florence, Baroncelli chapel.) 

3. The scene is represented by Ghirlandajo (Florence, S. 
Maria Novella) with his usual luxury of accessories and ac- 
companiments. The locality is the court of the temple ; on 
the right a magnificent porch ; the Virgin, a young girl of 
about nine or ten years old, is seen ascending the steps with a 
book in her hand ; the priest stretches out his arms to receive 
her ; behind him is another priest ; and " the young virgins 
who were to be her companions " are advancing joyously to 
receive her. 1 At the foot of the steps are St. Anna and St. 
Joachim, and further off a group of women and spectators, who 
watch the event in attitudes of thanksgiving and joyful sym- 
pathy. Two venerable, grand-looking Jews, and two beauti- 
ful boys, fill the foreground ; and the figure of the pilgrim 
resting on the steps is memorable in Art as one of the earliest 
examples of an undraped figure, accurately and gracefully 
drawn. The whole composition is full of life and character, 
and that sort of elegance peculiar to Ghirlandajo. 

4. In the composition of Albert Diirer [in the series, 
" Life of the Virgin "] we see the entrance of the temple on the 
left, and the child Mary with flowing hair ascending the steps ; 
behind her stand her parents and other personages, and in 
front are venders of provisions, doves, etc., which are brought 
as offerings. 

5. The scene as given by Carpaccio appears to me exceed- 
ingly graceful. The perfectly childish figure of Mary with 
her light flowing tresses, the grace with which she kneels 
on the steps, and the disposition of the attendant figures, are 
all beautifully conceived. Conspicuous in front is a page hold- 
ing a unicorn, the ancient emblem of chastity, and often in- 
troduced significantly into pictures of the Virgin. [Brera, 

6. But the most celebrated example is the Presentation by 
Titian, in the Academy at Venice, originally painted for the 
church of the Brotherhood of Charity (Scuola delta Carita, 
and still to be seen there — the Carita being now the Academy 
of Art. This famous picture is so well known through the 

1 " Adducentur Regi Virgines post earn." Ps. xlv. 


Presentation of the Virgin (Carpaccio) 

numerous engravings, that I have not thought it necessary to 
reproduce it here. In the general arrangement Titian seems 
to have been indebted to Carpaccio ; but all that is simple and 
poetical in the latter becomes in Titian's version sumptuous 
and dramatic. Here Mary does not kneel, but, holding up her 
light blue drapery, ascends the steps with childish grace and 
alacrity. The number of portrait-heads adds to the value and 
interest of the picture. Titian himself is looking up, and 
near him stands his friend, Andrea de' Franceschi, grand- 
chancellor of Venice, 1 robed as a Cavaliero di San Marco. In 
the fine bearded head of the priest, who stands behind the 
high priest, we may recognize, I think, the likeness of Cardi- 
nal Bembo. In the foreground, instead of the poetical symbol 
of the unicorn, we have an old woman selling eggs and fowls, 

1 " Amorevolissimo del Pittore," says Ridolfi. It is the same person whom 
Titian introduced, with himself, in the fine picture at Windsor. [See Early 
Italian Painters, under suhject " Titian."] 


as in Albert Diirer's print, which must have been well known 
to Titian. Albert Diirer published his " Life of the Virgin " in 
1520, 1 and Titian painted his picture about 1550. (Venice 

The Virgin in the Temple 

From the life of the Virgin in the temple we have several 
beautiful pictures. As she was to be placed before women as 
an example of every virtue, so she was skilled in all feminine 
accomplishments ; she was as studious, as learned, as wise, as 
she was industrious, chaste, and temperate. 

She is seen surrounded by her young companions, the 
maidens who were brought up in the temple with her, in a 
picture by Agnolo Gaddi. (Florence, Carmine.) She is in- 
structing her companions, in a charming picture by Luini : 
here she appears as a girl of seven or eight years old, seated 
on a sort of throne, dressed in a simple light blue tunic, with 
long golden hair ; while the children around her look up and 
listen with devout faces. (Brera, Milan.) 

The Girlhood of the Virgin 

Some other scenes of her early life, which in the Protevan- 
gelion are placed after her marriage with Joseph, in pictures 
usually precede it. Thus, she is chosen by lot to spin the 
fine purple for the temple, to weave and embroider it. Didron 
mentions a fine antique tapestry at Rheims, in which Mary is 
seated at her embroidery, while two unicorns crouching on each 
side look up in her face. 

I remember a fine drawing, in which the Virgin is seated at 
a large tapestry frame. Behind her are two maidens, one of 
whom is reading ; the other, holding a distaff, lays her hand 
on the shoulder of the Virgin, as if about to speak. The 
scene represents the interior of the temple with rich architec- 
ture. (Vienna, collection of Archduke Charles.) 

In a small but very pretty picture by Guido, the Virgin, as 
a young girl, sits embroidering a yellow robe. She is at- 
tended by four angels, one of whom draws aside a curtain. 
(Lord Ellesmere's Gallery.) 

1 [In 1511, according to Thausing.] 


It is also related, that among the companions of Mary in the 
temple was Anna the prophetess ; and that this aged and holy 
woman, knowing by inspiration of the Holy Spirit the pecul- 
iar grace vouchsafed to Mary, and her high destiny, beheld her 
with equal love and veneration; and, notwithstanding the dis- 
parity of age, they became true and dear friends. 

In an old illumination the Virgin is seated spinning, with 
an angel by her side. 1 

It is recorded that the angels daily ministered to her and 
fed her with celestial food. Hence in some early specimens of 
Art an angel brings her a loaf of bread and a pitcher of water 
— the bread of life and the water of life from Paradise. In 
this subject, as we find it carved on the stalls of the cathedral 
of Amiens, Mary holds a book, and several books are ranged 
on a shelf in the background ; there is, besides, a clock, such 
as was in use in the fifteenth century, to indicate the studious 
and regular life led by Mary in the temple. 

St. Evode, patriarch of Antioch, and St. Germanus assert, 
as an indubitable tradition of the Greek Church, that Mary 
had the privilege — never granted to one of her sex before or 
since — of entering the Holy of Holies, and praying before 
the ark of the covenant. Hence, in some of the scenes from 
her early life, the ark is placed in the background. We must 
also bear in mind that the ark was one of the received types 
of her who bore the Logos within her bosom. 

In her fourteenth year Mary was informed by the ' high 
priest that it was proper that she should be married ; but she 
modestly replied that her parents had dedicated her to the ser- 
vice of the Lord, and that, therefore, she could not comply. 
But the high priest, who had received a revelation from an 
angel concerning the destiny of Mary, informed her thereof, 
and she with all humility submitted herself to the divine will. 
The scene between Mary and the high priest has been painted 
by Luini, and it is the only example with which I am ac- 

Pictures of the Virgin in her girlhood, reading intently the 
Book of Wisdom, while angels watch over her, are often of 
1 Office of the Virgin, 1408, Oxford, Bodleian. 


great beauty. [An example is the fresco by Pinturicchio in 
S. Maria del Popolo, Rome. 

The girlhood of the Virgin is the subject of a remarkable 
picture by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. It represents the Virgin 
and her mother sitting at an embroidery frame in a vine- 
covered balcony. St. Joseph is trimming the vine, and a child 
angel waters a lily standing near. The picture was the first 
outcome of the artist's pre-Raphaelite views, and prepared the 
way for his still more beautiful interpretation of the Virgin's 
girlhood, the " Ecce Ancilla Domini." Several modern Ger- 
man artists have painted the child Mary as a single figure, the 
best perhaps being Ittenbach's Maria Virgo, in the Museum at 
Hanover. The face is of an exquisite flower-like beauty, and 
there is much spirituality in the conception. 

Others, imitated apparently from the figure by Ittenbach, 
are by Sinkel and by Franz Miiiler.] 

The Marriage of the Virgin 

Ital. II Sposalizio. Fr. Le Mariage de la Vierge. Ger. Die 
.Training Maria. (Jan. 23.) 

This, as an artistic subject, is of great consequence, from 
the beauty and celebrity of some of the representations, which, 
however, are unintelligible without the accompanying legends. 
And it is worth remarking, that while the incident is avoided 
in early Greek Art, it became very popular with the Italian 
and German painters from the fourteenth century. 

In the East, the prevalence of the monastic spirit, from the 
fourth century, had brought marriage into disrepute ; by many 
of the ascetic writers of the West it was considered almost in 
the light of a necessary evil. This idea, that the primal and 
most sacred ordinance of God and nature was incompatible 
with the sanctity and purity acceptable to God, was the origin 
of the singular legends of the Marriage of the Virgin. One 
sees very clearly that, if possible, it would have been denied 
that Mary had ever been married at all ; but, as the testimony 
of the Gospel was too direct and absolute to be set aside, it 
became necessary, in the narrative, to give to this distasteful 
marriage the most recondite motives, and, in Art, to surround 
it with the most poetical and even miraculous accessories. 

But before we enter on the treatment of the subject, it is 



necessary to say a few words on the character of Joseph, won- 
derfully selected to be the husband and guardian of the conse- 
crated mother of Christ, and foster-father of the Redeemer ; 
and so often introduced into all the pictures which refer to the 
childhood of our Lord. 

From the Gospels we learn nothing of him but that he was 
of the tribe of Judah and the lineage of David; that he was 
a just man; that he followed the trade of a carpenter, and 
dwelt in the little city of Nazareth. We infer from his con- 
duct towards Mary that he was a mild, and tender, and pure- 
hearted, as well as an upright man. Of his age and personal 
appearance nothing is said. These are the points on which 

Marriage of the Virgin (Angelico) 

the Church has not decided, and on which artists, left to their 
own devices, and led by various opinions, have differed con- 
sideral >1 y. 

The very early painters deemed it right to represent Joseph 
as very old, almost decrepid with age, and supported by a 
crutch. According to some of the monkish authorities, he was 
a widower, and eighty-four years old when he was espoused to 
Mary. On the other hand, it was argued that such a marriage 
would have been quite contrary to the custom of the Jews ; 
and that to defend Mary and to provide for her celestial off- 
spring it was necessary that her husband should be a man of 
mature age, but still strong and robust, and able to work at 
his trade ; and thus, with more propriety and better taste, the 
later painters have represented him. In the best Italian and 
Spanish pictures of the Holy Family he is a man of about 
forty or fifty, with a mild benevolent countenance, brown hair, 


and a short, curled beard ; the crutch, or stick, however, is 
seldom omitted ; it became a conventional attribute. 

In the German pictures Joseph is not only old, but appears 
almost in a state of dotage, like a lean, wrinkled mendicant, with 
a bald head, a white beard, a feeble frame, and a sleepy or 
stupid countenance. Then, again, the late Italian painters have 
erred as much on the other side ; for I have seen pictures in 
which St. Joseph is not only a young man not more than thirty, 
but bears a strong resemblance to the received heads of our 

It is in the sixteenth century that we first find Joseph ad- 
vanced to the dignity of a saint in his own right ; and in the 
seventeenth he became very popular, especially in Spain, where 
St. Theresa had chosen him for her patron saint, and had 
placed her powerful Order of the reformed Carmelites under 
his protection. Hence the number of pictures of that time, 
which represent Joseph as the foster-father of Christ, carry- 
ing the Infant on his arm, and caressing him, while in the 
other hand he bears a lily, to express the sanctity and purity 
of his relations with the Virgin. 

The legend of " the Marriage of Joseph and Mary " is thus 
given in the Protevangelion and the History of Joseph the 
Carpenter : — 

" When Mary was fourteen years old, the priest Zacharias 
(or Abiathar, as he is elsewhere called) inquired of the Lord 
concerning her, what was right to be done ; and an angel came 
to him and said, ' Go forth, and call together all the widowers 
among the people, and let each bring his rod (or wand) in his 
hand, and he to whom the Lord shall show a sign, let him 
be the husband of Mary.' And Zacharias did as the angel 
commanded, and made proclamation accordingly. And Joseph 
the carpenter, a righteous man, throwing down his axe, and 
taking his staff in his hand, ran out with the rest. When he 
appeared before ' the priest, and presented his rod, lo ! a dove 
issued out of it — a dove dazzling white as the snow — and after 
settling on his head flew towards heaven. Then the high priest 
said to him, ' Thou art the person chosen to take the Virgin 
of the Lord, and to keep her for him.' And Joseph was at 
first afraid, and drew back, but afterwards he took her home 


to his house, and said to her, * Behold, I have taken thee from 
the temple of the Lord, and now I will leave thee in my 
house, for I must go and follow my trade of building. I will 
return to thee, and meanwhile the Lord be with thee and watch 
over thee.' So Joseph left her, and Mary remained in her 

There is nothing said of any marriage ceremony ; some have 
even affirmed that Mary was only betrothed to Joseph, but 
for conclusive reasons it remains a matter of faith that she was 
married to him. 

I must mention here an old tradition cited by St. Jerome, 
and which has been used as a text by the painters. The 
various suitors who aspired to the honor of marrying the con- 
secrated " Virgin of the Lord," among whom was the son of 
the high priest, deposited their wands in the temple over 
night, 1 and next morning the rod of Joseph was found, like 
the rod of Aaron, to have budded forth into leaves and flowers. 
The other suitors thereupon broke their wands in rage and 
despair ; and one among them, a youth of noble lineage, whose 
name was Agabus, fled to Mount Carmel, and became an an- 
chorite, that is to say, a Carmelite friar. 

According to the Abbe Orsini, who gives a long description 
of the espousals of Mary and Joseph, they returned after the 
marriage ceremony to Nazareth, and dwelt in the house of 
St. Anna. 

Now, with regard to the representations, we find that many 
of the early painters, and particularly the Italians, have care- 
fully attended to the fact, that, among the Jews, marriage was 
a civil contract, not a religious rite. The ceremony takes 
place in the open air, in a garden, or in a landscape, or in 
front of the temple. Mary, as a meek and beautiful maiden 
of about fifteen, attended by a train of virgins, stands on the 
right ; Joseph, behind whom are seen the disappointed suitors, 
is on the left. The priest joins their hands, or Joseph is in 
the act of placing the ring on the finger of the bride. This is 
the traditional arrangement from Giotto down to Raphael. 
In the series by Giotto, in the Arena at Padua, we have three 

1 The suitors kneeling with their wands before the altar in the temple is one 
of the series by Giotto in the Arena at Padua. 


scenes from the marriage legend. 1. St. Joseph and the other 
suitors present their wands to the high priest. 2. They kneel 
before the altar, on which their wands are deposited, waiting 
for the promised miracle. 3. The marriage ceremony. It 
takes place before an altar in the interior of the temple. The 
Virgin, a most graceful figure, but rather too old, stands at- 
tended by her maidens ; St. Joseph holds his wand with the 
ilower and the holy Dove resting on it ; one of the disappointed 
suitors is about to strike him; another breaks his wand against 
his knee. Taddeo Gaddi, Angelico, Ghirlandajo, Perugino, 
all followed this traditional conception of the subject, except 
that they omit the altar, and place the locality in the open 
air, or under a portico. Among the relics venerated in the 
cathedral of Perugia is the nuptial ring of the blessed Virgin ; 
and for the altar of the sacrament there Perugino painted the 
appropriate subject of the Marriage of the Virgin. Here the 
ceremony takes place under the portico of the temple, and 
Joseph of course puts the ring on her finger. It is a beauti- 
ful composition, which has been imitated more or less by the 
painters of the Perugino school, and often repeated in the gen- 
eral arrangement. The picture was carried off from the church 
by the French, sold in France, and is now to be seen in the 
Muse'e at Caen. 

But in this subject, Raphael, while yet a youth, excelled his 
master and all who had gone before him. Every one knows 
the famous " Sposalizio of the Brera" [Milan]. It was 
painted by Raphael in his twenty-first year, for the church of 
S. Francesco in Citta di Castello ; and though he has closely 
followed the conception of his master, it is modified by that 
ethereal grace which even then distinguished him. Here Mary 
and Joseph stand in front of the temple, the high priest joins 
their hands, and Joseph places the ring on the finger of the 
bride : he is a man of about thirty, and holds his wand, which 
has blossomed into a lily, but there is no dove upon it. Be- 
hind Mary is a group of the virgins of the temple ; behind 
Joseph the group of disappointed suitors ; one of whom, in the 
act of breaking his wand against his knee, a singularly grace- 
ful figure, seen more in front and richly dressed, is perhaps 
the despairing youth mentioned in the legend. 1 With some- 

1 In the series by Giotto at Padua, we have the youth breaking his wand 
across his knee. 



thing of the formality of the elder schools, the figures are 
noble and dignified ; the countenances of the principal person- 
ages have a characteristic refinement and beauty, and a soft, 
tender enthusiastic melancholy, which lends a peculiar and 
appropriate charm to the subject. In fact, the whole scene is 
here idealized ; it is like a lyric poem. 

In Ghirlandajo's composition (Florence, S. Maria Novella), 
Joseph is an old man with a bald head ; the architecture is 
splendid ; the accessory figures, as is usual with Ghirlandajo, 
are numerous and full of grace. In the background are musi- 
cians playing on the pipe and tabor, an incident which I do not 
recollect to have seen in other pictures. 

The Sposalizio by Girolamo da Cotignola (Bologna Gallery), 
painted for the church of St. Joseph, is treated quite in a 
mystical style. Mary and Joseph stand before an altar, on 
the steps of which are seated, on one side a prophet, on the 
other a sibyl. 

By the German painters the scene is represented with a 
characteristic homely neglect of all historic propriety. The 
temple is a Gothic church ; the altar has a Gothic altar-piece ; 
Joseph looks like an old burgher, arrayed in furs and an em- 
broidered gown ; and the Virgin is richly dressed in the cos- 
tume of the fifteenth century. The suitors are often knights 
and cavaliers with spurs and tight hose. 

It is not said anywhere that St. Anna and St. Joachim were 
present at the marriage of their daughter; hence they are sup- 
posed to have been dead before it took place. This has not 
prevented some of the old German artists from introducing 
them, because, according to their ideas of domestic propriety, 
they oiKjlit to have been present. 

I observe that the later painters who treated the subject, 
Rubens and Poussin for instance, omit the disappointed suitors. 

After the marriage, or betrothal, Joseph conducts his wife 

to his house. The group of the returning procession has 

been beautifully treated in Giotto's series at Padua ; 1 still 

more beautifully by Luini in the fragment of fresco now in 

1 Cappella dell' Arena, engraved for the Arundel Society. 


the Brera at Milan. Here Joseph and Mary walk together 
hand in hand. He looks at her, just touching her fingers with 
an air of tender veneration ; she looks down, serenely modest. 
Thus they return together to their humble home ; and with 
this scene closes the first part of the life of the Virgin Mary. 




The Annunciation 

Hal. L' Annnnciaadone. La B. Vergine Annunziata. Fr. L'An- 
nonciation. La Salutation Angelique. Ger. Die Veikiindiguiig. 
Dear englische Grass. (March '2').) 

The second part of the life of the Virgin Mary begins with 
the Annunciation and ends with the Crucifixion, comprising 
all those scriptural incidents which connect her history with 
that of her Divine Son. 

But to the scenes narrated in the Gospels the painters did 
not confine themselves. Not only were the simple Scripture 

Annunciation (Delia Robbia) 

histories colored throughout by the predominant and enthusi- 
astic veneration paid to the Virgin, — till the life of Christ was 
absolutely merged in that of his mother, and its various inci- 
dents became " the seven joys and the seven sorrows of Mary," 
— but we find the artistic representations of her life curiously 
embroidered and variegated by the introduction of traditional 
and apocryphal circumstances, in most cases sanctioned by the 
Church authorities of the time. However doubtful or repul- 
sive some of these scenes and incidents, we cannot call them 


absolutely unmeaning or absurd ; on the contrary, what was 
supposed grew up very naturally, in the vivid and excited 
imaginations of the people, out of what was recorded ; nor did 
they distinguish accurately between what they were allowed 
and what they were commanded to believe. Neither can it be 
denied that the traditional incidents — those at least which Ave 
find artistically treated — are often singularly beautiful, poeti- 
cal, and instructive. In the hands of the great religious artists, 
who worked in their vocation with faith and simplicity, objects 
and scenes the most familiar and commonplace became sancti- 
fied and glorified by association with what we deem most holy 
and most venerable. In the hands of the later painters the 
result was just the reverse — what was most spiritual, most 
hallowed, most elevated, became secularized, materialized, and 
shockingly degraded. 

No subject has been more profoundly felt and more beauti- 
fully handled by the old painters, nor more vilely mishandled 
by the moderns, than the Annunciation, of all the scenes in 
the life of Mary the most important and the most commonly 
met with. Considered merely as an artistic subject, it is surely 
eminently beautiful : it places before us the two most graceful 
forms which the hand of man was ever called on to delineate ; 
— the winged spirit fresh from Paradise ; the woman not less 
pure, and even more highly blessed — the chosen vessel of 
redemption, and the personification of all female loveliness, all 
female excellence, all wisdom, and all purity. 

We find the Annunciation, like many other scriptural inci- 
dents, treated in two ways — as a mystery and as an event. 
Taken in the former sense, it became the expressive symbol of 
a momentous article of faith, The Incarnation of the Deity. 
Taken in the later sense, it represented the announcement of 
salvation to mankind, through the direct interposition of mirac- 
ulous power. In one sense or the other, it enters into every 
scheme of ecclesiastical decoration ; but chiefly it is set before 
us as a great and awful mystery, of which the two figures of 
Gabriel, the angel messenger, and Mary the " highly-favored," 
placed in relation to each other, became the universally ac- 
cepted symbol, rather than the representation. 



The Annunciation as a Mystery 

Considering the importance given to the Annunciation in 
its mystical sense, it is strange that we do not find it among 
the very ancient symbolical subjects adopted in the first ages 
of Christian Art. It does not appear on the sarcophagi, nor 
in the early Greek carvings and diptychs, nor in the early 

Annunciation (attributed to Stephen Lothener) 

mosaics — except once, and then as a part of the history of 
Christ, not as a symbol ; nor can we trace the mystical treat- 
ment of this subject higher than the eleventh century, when it 
first appears in the Gothic sculpture and stained glass. In 
the thirteenth, and thenceforward, the Annunciation appears 
before us as the expression in form of a theological dogma, 
everywhere conspicuous. It became a primal element in every 
combination of sacred representations — the corner-stone, as it 
were, of every architectural system of religious decoration. It 


formed a part of every altar-piece, either in sculpture or paint- 
ing. Sometimes the Virgin stands on one side of the altar, 
the angel on the other, carved in marble or alabaster, or of 
wood richly painted and gilt ; or even, as I have seen in some 
instances, of solid silver. Not seldom we find the two figures 
placed in niches against the pillars, or on pedestals at the en- 
trance of the choir. It was not necessary, when thus symbol- 
ically treated, to place the two figures in proximity to signify 
their relation to each other ; they are often divided by the 
whole breadth of the chancel. 

Whatever the subject of the altar-piece, — whether the Na- 
tivity, or the enthroned Madonna, or the Coronation, or the 
Crucifixion, or the Last Supper, — the Annunciation almost 
invariably formed part of the decoration, inserted either into 
the spandrils of the arches above, or in the predella below ; or, 
which is very common, painted or carved on the doors of a 
tabernacle or triptychon. 

If the figures are full length, a certain symmetry being re- 
quired, they are .either both standing or both kneeling ; it is 
only in later times that the Virgin sits and the angel kneels. 
When disposed in circles or semicircles, they are often merely 
busts, or half-length figures, separated perhaps by a framework 
of tracery, or set on each side of the principal subject, what- 
ever that may be. Hence it is that we so often find, in gal- 
leries and collections, pictures of the Annunciation in two 
separate parts, the angel in one frame, the Virgin in another ; 
and perhaps the two pictures, thus disunited, may have found 
their way into different countries and different collections — 
the Virgin being in Italy, and the angel in England. 

Sometimes the Annunciation — still as a mystical subject — 
forms an altar-piece of itself. In many Roman Catholic churches 
there is a chapel or an altar dedicated expressly to the mystery 
of the Annunciation, the subject forming of course the principal 
decoration. At Florence there is a church — one of the most 
splendid and interesting of its many beautiful edifices — dedi- 
cated to the Annunciation, or rather to the Virgin in her 
especial character and dignity as the Instrument of the Incar- 
nation, and thence styled the Church della Santissima Nun- 
ziata. The fine mosaic of the Annunciation by [David] G-hir- 
landajo is placed over the principal entrance. Of this church, 
and of the order of the Servi, to whom it belongs, I have 



Annunciation (Lorenzo Monaco) 

already spoken at length [in the Legends of the Monastic 
Orders]. Here, in the first chapel on the left, as we enter, is 
to he found the miraculous picture of the Annunciation, for- 
merly held in such veneration, not merely by all Florence, but 
all Christendom, — found, but not seen, for it is still con- 
cealed from profane eyes, and exhibited to the devout only on 
great occasions. The name of the painter is disputed ; but ac- 
cording to tradition it is the work of a certain Bartolommeo ; 1 
who while he sat meditating on the various excellences and 
perfections of our Lady, and most especially on her divine 

1 [By others it is attributed to Piero Cavallini, a disciple of Giotto. There is 
a repetition, also by Cavallini, in the church of San Marco.] 


beauty, and thinking, with humility, how inadequate were his 
own powers to represent her worthily, fell asleep ; and on 
awaking found the head of the Virgin had been wondrously 
completed, either by the hand of an angel, or by that of St. 
Luke, who had descended from heaven on purpose. Though 
this curious relic has been frequently restored, no one has pre- 
sumed to touch the features of the Virgin, which are, I am 
told — for I have never been blessed with a sight of the 
original picture — marvellously sweet and beautiful. It is 
concealed by a veil, on which is painted a fine head of the 
Redeemer by Andrea del Sarto ; and forty-two lamps of silver 
burn continually round it. 

It is evident that the Annunciation, as a mystery, admits of 
a style of treatment which would not be allowable in the rep- 
resentation of an event. In the former case, the artist is 
emancipated from all considerations of locality or circumstance. 
Whether the background be of gold, or of blue, or star-be- 
spangled sky — a mere curtain, or a temple of gorgeous archi- 
tecture ; whether the accessories be the most simple or the 
most elaborate, the most real or the most ideal ; all this is of 
little moment, and might be left to the imagination of the ar- 
tist, or might be modified according to the conditions imposed 
by the purpose of the representation and the material em- 
ployed, so long as the chief object is fulfilled — the significant 
expression of an abstract dogma, appealing to the faith, not to 
the senses or the understanding, of the observer. 

To this class, then, belong all those church images and pic- 
tures of the Annunciation, either confined to the two person- 
ages, with just sufficient of attitude and expression to place 
them in relation to each other, or with such accompaniments 
as served to carry out the mystical idea, still keeping it as far 
as possible removed from the region of earthly possibilities. 

In the fifteenth century — that age of mysticism — we find 
the Annunciation not merely treated as an abstract religious 
emblem, but as a sort of divine allegory or poem, which in 
old French and Flemish Art is clothed in the quaintest, the 
most curious" forms. I recollect going into a church at Bres- 
lau and finding over one of the altars a most elaborate carving 
in wood of the Annunciation. Mary is seated within a Gothic 
porch of open tracery work ; a unicorn takes refuge in her 


bosom ; outside, a kneeling angel winds a hunting-born ; three 
or four dogs are crouching near him. I looked and wondered. 
At first I could make nothing of this singular allegory; but 
afterwards found the explanation in a learned French work on 
the " Stalles d' Amiens." I give the original passage, for it 
will assist the reader to the comprehension of many curious 
works of Art ; but I do not venture to translate it. 

"On sail qu'au \\ i"' siecle,le mysterede 1' Incarnation dtoit 
souvent represente par une allegoric ainsi concaie : Une licorne 
se re'fugiant au sein d'une vierge pure, quatre levriers la pres- 
sant d'une course rapide, un veneur aile' sonnant de la trom- 
pette. La science de la zoologie mystique du temps aide h, en 
trouver ^explication ; le fabuleux animal dont l'unique corne 
ne blessait que pour purger de tout venin l'endroit du corps 
qu'elle avoit touche', figuroit Jesus-Christ, medecin et sauveur 
des ames ; on donnait aux levriers agiles les noms de Miseri- 
cordia, Veritas, Justitia, Pax, les quatre raisons qui out presse 
le Verbe eternel de sortir de son repos ; mais comme e'etoit 
par la Vierge Marie qu'il avoit voulu descendre parmi les 
homines et se mettre en leur puissance, on croyoit ne pouvoir 
mieux faire que de choisir dans la fable le fait d'une pucelle 
pouvant seule servir de piege a. la licorne, en l'attirant par le 
charme et le parfum de son sein virginal qu'elle lui presentoit ; 
enfin I'ange Gabriel concourant au mystere etoit bien recon- 
noissable sous les traits du veneur aile lan^ant les levriers et 
embouchant la trompette." [It is well known that in the 
sixteenth century the mystery of the Incarnation was often 
represented by an allegory conceived in this wise : A unicorn 
fleeing to the bosom of a pure virgin, four hounds pursuing 
it in rapid chase, a winged huntsman sounding the trumpet. 
The mystical zoological science of the time helps us to the 
explanation : the fabulous animal whose single horn wounded 
only to cleanse from all poison the part of the body which it 
had touched, symbolized Jesus Christ, Physician and Saviour 
of souls ; to the fleet hounds were given the names of Miseri- 
cordia, Veritas, Justitia, Pax, the four reasons which aroused 
the Eternal Word from his rest ; but as it was by the Virgin Mary 
that he had chosen to descend among men and put himself in 
their power, it was thought best to choose in the fable a maiden, 
who could alone snare the unicorn, drawing it by the charm 
and perfume of her Virgin breast which she presented to it. 


The angel Gabriel connected with the mystery was easily rec- 
ognizable in the guise of the winged huntsman urging the 
hounds and winding the trumpet.] 

It appears that this was an accepted religious allegory, as 
familiar in the sixteenth century as those of Spenser's Faerie 
Queene or the Pilgrim's Progress are to us. I have since 
found it frequently reproduced in the old French and German 
prints : * there is a specimen in the British Museum ; and there 
is a picture similarly treated in the Musee at Amiens. I have 
never seen it in an Italian picture or print ; unless a print 
after Guido, wherein a beautiful maiden is seated under a tree, 
and a unicorn has sought refuge in her lap, be intended to 
convey the same far-fetched allegory. 

Very common, however, in Italian Art is a less fantastic 
but still wholly poetical version of the Annunciation, repre- 
senting, in fact, not the Annunciation, but the Incarnation. 
Thus in a picture, in the Brera, Milan, by Giovanni Sanzio (the 
father of Raphael), Mary stands under a splendid portico ; she 
appears as if just risen from her seat ; her hands are meekly 
folded over her bosom ; her head declined. The angel kneels 
outside the portico, holding forth his lily ; while above, in the 
heavens, the Padre Eterno sends forth the Redeemer, who, in 
the form of the infant Christ bearing his cross, floats down- 
wards towards the earth, preceded by the mystic Dove. This 
manner of representing the Incarnation is strongly disapproved 
of by the Abbe Mery, 2 as not only an error, but a heresy ; 
yet it was frequently repeated in the sixteenth century. 

The Annunciation is also a mystery when certain emblems 
are introduced conveying a certain signification ; as when Mary 
is seated on a throne, wearing a radiant crown of mingled 
gems and flowers, and receives the message of the angel with 
all the majesty that could be expressed by the painter ; or is 
seated in a garden inclosed by a hedge of roses (the Hortus 
clausus or conclusus of the Canticles) : or where the angel 
holds in his hands the sealed book, as in the famous altar-piece 
at Cologne. 

In a picture by Simone Meinmi (Uffizi, Florence), the Virgin 

1 [There is also in Weimar an old German painting of the subject to which 
Mr. Henry van Dyke refers in the Christ-Child in Art.] 

2 Vide Theologie des Feintres. 

A X X l' XC I ATI OX (Bartoi.ommeo) 


seated on a Gothic throne receives, as the higher and supe- 
rior being, yet with a shrinking timidity, the salutation of the 
angel, who conies as the messenger of peace, olive-crowned, 
and bearing a branch of olive in his hand. This poetical version 
is very characteristic of the early Siena school, in which we 
often find a certain fanciful and original way of treating well- 
known subjects. Taddeo Bartolo, another Sienese, and Martin 
Schoen, the most poetical of the early Germans, also adopted 
the olive symbol ; and we find it also in the tabernacle of King 
Rend, already described. 

The treatment is clearly devotional and ideal where attend- 
ant saints and votaries stand or kneel around, contemplating 
with devout gratitude or ecstatic wonder the divine mystery. 
Thus, in a remarkable and most beautiful picture by Fra Bar- 
tolommeo [Louvre], the Virgin is seated on her throne ; the 
angel descends from on high bearing his lily ; around the 
throne attend St. John the Baptist and St. Francis, St. Jerome, 
St. Paul, and St. Margaret. Again, in a very beautiful pic- 
ture by Francis [in the Bologna Gallery], Mary stands in the 
midst of an open landscape ; her hands, folded over each other, 
press to her bosom a book closed and clasped : St. Jerome 
stands on the right, John the Baptist on the left ; both look 
up with a devout expression to the angel descending from 
above. In both these examples Mary is very nobly and ex- 
pressively represented as the chosen and predestined vehicle 
of human redemption. It is not here the Annunciation, but 
the " Sacratissima Annunziata," we see before us. In a curi- 
ous picture by Francesco da Cotignola, 1 Mary stands on a 
sculptured pedestal, in the midst of an architectural decoration 
of many-colored marbles, most elaborately painted ; through 
an opening is seen a distant landscape, and the blue sky ; on 
her right stands St. John the Baptist, pointing upwards ; on 
her left, St. Francis, adoring ; the votary kneels in front. 
(Berlin Gallery.) Votive pictures of the Annunciation were 
frequently expressive offerings from those who desired, or those 
who had received, the blessing of an heir ; and this I take to 
be an instance. 

In the following example the picture is votive in another 
sense, and altogether poetical. The Virgin Mary receives the 
message of the angel, as usual ; but before her, at a little dis- 
1 [The catalogue name of this artist is Zaganelli.] 



tance, kneels the Cardinal Torrecremata, who presents three 

young girls, also 

kneeling, to one of whom the Virgin gives a 

purse of money. This curious and beautiful picture becomes 
intelligible when we find that it was painted for a charitable 
community, instituted by Torrecremata, for educating and en- 

Annunciation (Angelico) 

dowing poor orphan girls, and styled the " Confraternity dell' 
Annunziata." (Benozzo Grozzoli, in S. Maria sopra Minerva, 

In this charming Annunciation by Angelico [San Marco, 
Florence], the scene is in the cloister of his own convent of 
St. Mark. A Dominican (St. Peter Martyr) stands in the 
background with hands folded in prayer. I might add many 
beautiful examples from Fra Bartolommeo, and in sculpture 
from Benedetto Maiano, Luca della Robbia, and others, but. 
have said enough to enable the observer to judge of the inten- 


tion of the artist. The Annunciation by Sansovino, among 
the bas-reliefs which cover the chapel at Loretto, is of great 

1 must, however, notice one more picture. Of six Annun- 
ciations painted by Rubens, five represent the event ; the sixth 
is one of his magnificent and most palpable allegories, all glow- 
ing with life and reality. Here Mary kneels on the summit 
of a night of steps ; a dove, encompassed by cherubim, hovers 
over her head. Before her kneels the celestial messenger ; 
behind him Moses and Aaron, with David and other patri- 
archal ancestors of Christ. In the clouds above is seen the 
heavenly Father ; on his right are two female figures, Peace 
and Reconciliation ; on his left, angels bear the ark of the 
covenant. In the lower part of the picture stand Isaiah and 
Jeremiah, with four sibyls, thus connecting the prophecies 
of the Old Testament, and the promises made to the Gentile 
nations through the sibyls, with the fulfilment of both in the 
message from on high. 

The Annunciation as an Event 

Had the Annunciation to Mary been merely mentioned as 
an awful and incomprehensible vision, it would have been 
better to have adhered to the mystical style of treatment, or 
left it alone altogether ; but the Scripture history, by giving 
the whole narration as a simple fact, a real event, left it free 
for representation as such ; and, as such, the fancy of the artist 
was to be controlled and limited only by the words of Scrip- 
ture, as commonly understood and interpreted, and by those 
proprieties of time, place, and circumstance which would be 
required in the representation of any other historical incident 
or action. 

When all the accompaniments show that nothing more was 
in the mind of the artist than the aim to exhibit an incident 
in the life of the Virgin, or an introduction to that of our 
Lord, the representation is no longer mystical and devotional, 
but historical. The story was to be told with all the fidelity, 
or at least all the likelihood, that was possible ; and it is clear 
that, in this case, the subject admitted, and even required, a 
more dramatic treatment, with such accessories and accompani- 
ments as might bring the scene within the sphere of the actual. 


In this sense it is not to be mistaken. Although the action is 
of itself so very simple, and the actors confined to two persons, 
it is astonishing to note the infinite variations of which this 
favorite theme has been found susceptible. Whether all these 
be equally appropriate and laudable is quite another question ; 
and in how far the painters have truly interpreted the Scrip 
tural narration is now to be considered. 

And first with regard to the time, which is not especially 
mentioned. It was presumed by the Fathers and early com- 
mentators on Scripture, that the Annunciation must have taken 
place in early springtime, at eventide, soon after sunset, the 
hour since consecrated as the " Ave Maria," as the bell which 
announces it is called the " Angelus ; " 1 but other authorities 
say that it was rather at midnight, because the nativity of our 
Lord took place at the corresponding hour in the following 
December. This we find exactly attended to by many of the 
old painters, and indicated either by the moon and stars in the 
sky, or by a taper or a lamp burning near. 

With regard to the locality, we are told by St. Luke that 
the angel Gabriel was sent from God, and that " he came in 
to Mary " (Luke i. 28), which seems to express that she was 
within her house. 

In describing the actual scene of the interview between the 
angel and Mary, the legendary story of the Virgin adheres 
very closely to the scriptural text. But it also relates, that 
Mary went forth at evening to draw water from the fountain ; 
that she heard a voice which said, " Hail, thou that art full 
of grace ! " and thereupon, being troubled, she looked to the 
right and to the left, and, seeing no one, returned to her house, 
and sat down to her work. (Protevangelion, ix. 7.) Had 
any exact attention been paid to oriental customs, Mary might 
have been working or reading or meditating on the roof of her 

1 So Lord Byron : — 

Ave Maria ! blessed be the hour ! 

The time, the clime, the spot, where I so oft 
Have felt that moment in its fullest power 

Sink o'er the earth so beautiful and soft, 
While swung the deep bell in the distant tower, 

Or the faint dying day-hj'mn stole aloft, 
And not a breath crept through the rosy air, 
And yet the forest leaves seemed stirred with prayer. 



Annunciation (Van Eyck) 

house ; but this has not suggested itself in any instance that I 
can remember. We have, as the scene of the interview, an inte- 
rior which is sometimes like an oratory, sometimes a portico 
with open arcades ; but more generally a bedroom. The pov- 
erty of Joseph and Mary, and their humble condition in life, 
are sometimes attended to, but not always ; for, according to 
one tradition, the house at Nazareth was that which Mary had 
inherited from her parents, Joachim and Anna, who were 
people of substance. Hence, the painters had an excuse for 
making the chamber richly furnished, the portico sustained by 
marble pillars, or decorated with sculpture. In the German 
and Flemish pictures, the artist, true to the national charac- 
teristic of naive and literal illustration, gives us a German 


or a Gothic chamber, with a lattice window of small panes of 
glass, and a couch with pillows, or a comfortable four-post 
bedstead furnished with draperies, thus imparting to the whole 
scene an air of the most vivid homely reality. 

As for the accessories, the most usual, almost indispensable, 
is the pot of lilies, the symbolical Fleur de Marie, which I 
have already explained at length. There is also a basket 
containing needlework and implements of female industry, as 
scissors, etc., not merely to express Mary's habitual industry, 
but because it is related that when she returned to her house 
" she took the purple linen, and sat down to work it." The 
workbasket is therefore seldom omitted. Sometimes a distaff 
lies at her feet, as in Raphael's Annunciation. In old German 
pictures we have often a spinning-wheel. • To these emblems 
of industry is often added a basket, or a dish, containing fruit ; 
and near it a pitcher of water, to express the temperance of 
the blessed Virgin. 

There is grace and meaning in the introduction of birds, 
always emblems of the spiritual. Titian places a tame par- 
tridge at the feet of Mary, which expresses her tenderness ; 
but the introduction of a cat, as in Baroccio's picture, is insuf- 

The Archangel Gabriel, " one of those who stand continually 
in the presence of God," having received his mission, descends 
to earth. In the very earliest representation of the Annun- 
ciation as an event, in a mosaic at S. Maria Maggiore, Rome, 
we have this descent of the winged spirit from on high ; and 
I have seen other instances. There is a small and beautiful 
sketch by Garofalo (Alton Towers), 1 in which, from amidst a 
flood of light and a choir of celestial spirits, such as Milton 
describes as adoring the " divine sacrifice " proclaimed for sin- 
ful man (Paradise Lost, book iii.), the archangel spreads his 
lucid wings, and seems just about to take his flight to Naza- 
reth. He was accompanied, says the Italian legend, by a train 
of lower angels, anxious to behold and reverence their Queen ; 
these remained, however, at the door, or " before the gate," 
while Gabriel entered. 

The old German masters are fond of representing him as 
entering by a door in the background ; while the serene Virgin, 
1 [The Alton Towers collection was dispersed in a sale in 1857.] 



seated in front, seems aware of his presence without seeing 

In some of the old pictures he comes in flying from above, 
or he is upborne by an effulgent cloud, and surrounded by a 
glory which lights the wholo picture — a really celestial mes- 
senger, as in a fresco by Spinello Aretino. In others, he 

Annunciation (Albert Diirer) 

comes gliding in, " smooth sliding without step ; " sometimes 
he enters like a heavenly ambassador, and little angels hold 
up his train. In a picture by Tintoretto he comes rushing in 
as upon a whirlwind, followed by a legion of lesser angels ; 
while on the outside of the building Joseph the carpenter is 
seen quietly at his work. (Venice, school of S. Kocco.) 


But, whether walking or flying, Gabriel bears, of course, the 
conventional angelic form, that of the human creature, winged, 
beautiful, and radiant with eternal youth, yet with a grave 
and serious mien. In the later pictures the drapery given to 
the angel is offensively scanty ; his sandals, and bare arms, and 
fluttering robe too much a V antique ; he comes in the atti- 
tude of a flying Mercury, or a dancer in a ballet. But in the 
early Italian pictures his dress is arranged with a kind of sol- 
emn propriety : it is that of an acolyte, white and full, and 
falling in large folds over his arms, and in general concealing 
his feet. In the German pictures, he often wears the priestly 
robe, richly embroidered, and clasped in front by a jewel. His 
ambrosial curls fall over this cope in " hyacinthine flow." The 
wings are essential, and never omitted. They are white or 
many-colored, eyed like the peacock's train, or bedropped with 
gold. He usually bears the lily in his hand, but not always. 
Sometimes it is the sceptre, the ancient attribute of a herald ; 
and this has a scroll around it with the words, " Ave Maria, 
gratia plena ! " The sceptre or wand is occasionally sur- 
mounted by a cross [as in Diirer's picture in the series, " Life of 
the Virgin"]. 

In general, the palm is given to the angel who announces 
the death of Mary. In one or two instances only I have 
seen the palm given to the angel Gabriel, as in a predella by 
Angelico ; for which, however, the painter had the authority 
of Dante, or Dante some authority earlier still. He says of 

Gabriel, — 

That he bore the palm 
Down unto Mary when the Son of God 
t Vouchsafed to clothe him in terrestial weeds. 

The olive-bough has a mystical sense wherever adopted ; it 
is the symbol of peace on earth. Often the angel bears neither 
lily, nor sceptre, nor palm, nor olive. His hands are folded 
on his bosom ; or, with one hand stretched forth, and the other 
pointing upwards, he declares his mission from on high. 

In the old Greek pictures, and in the most ancient Italian 
examples, the angel stands, as in [a composition] after Cima- 
bue, wherein the Greek model is very exactly followed. Ac- 
cording to the Roman Catholic belief, Mary is queen of heaven 
and of angels — the superior being ; consequently there is pro- 
priety in making the angel deliver his message kneeling : but 


even according to the Protestant belief the attitude would not 
be unbecoming, for the angel, having uttered Ids salutation, 
might well prostrate himself as witness of the transcending 
miracle, and beneath the overshadowing -presence of the Holy 

Now, as to the attitude and occupation of Mary at the mo- 
ment the angel entered, authorities are not agreed. It is usual 
to exhibit her as kneeling in prayer, or reading with a large 
book open on a desk before her. St. Bernard says that she 
was studying the book of the prophet Isaiah, and as she recited 
the verse, " Behold, a Virgin shall conceive and l^ear a son," she 
thought within her heart, in her great humility, " How blessed 
the woman of whom these words are written ! Would I might 
be but her handmaid to serve her, and allowed to kiss her 
feet ! " — when, in the same instant, the wondrous vision burst 
upon her, and the holy prophecy was realized in herself. 1 

I think it is a manifest fault to disturb the sublime tenor of 
the scene by representing Mary as starting up in alarm ; for, 
in the first place, she was accustomed, as we have seen, to the 
perpetual ministry of angels, who daily and hourly attended 
on her. It is, indeed, said that Mary was troubled ; but it 
was not the presence, but the " saying," of the angel which 
troubled her : it was the question " how this should be ? " 
(Luke i. 29.) The attitude, therefore, which some painters 
have given to her, as if she had started from her seat, not only 
in terror, but in indignation, is altogether misplaced. A signal 
instance is the statue of the Virgin by Mocchi in the choir of 
the cathedral at Orvieto, so grand in itself, and yet so offensive 
as a devotional figure. Misplaced is also, I think, the sort of 
timid shrinking surprise which is the expression in some pic- 
tures. The moment is much too awful, the expectance much 
too sublime, for any such human girlish emotions. If the 
painter intend to express the moment in which the angel 
appears and utters the salutation " Hail ! " then Mary may be 
standing, and her looks directed towards him, as in a fine 
majestic Annunciation of Andrea del Sarto [in the Pitti, 
Florence]. Standing was the antique attitude of prayer ; so 
that if we suppose her to have been interrupted in her devo- 
tions, the attitude is still appropriate. But if that moment 
be chosen in which she expressed her submission to the divine 
l II rerfetto Leyendario. 


will, " Behold the handmaid of the Lord ; let it be unto me 
according to thy word ! " then she might surely kneel with 
bowed head, and folded hands, and "downcast eyes beneath 
th' almighty Dove." No attitude could be too humble to 
express that response ; and Dante has given us, as the most 
perfect illustration of the virtue of humility, the sentiment and 
attitude of Mary when submitting herself to the divine will. 
(Purg. x., Cary's trans.) 

The angel (who came down to earth 
With tidings of the peace so many years 
Wept for in vain, that op'd the heavenly gates 
From their long interdict) before us seem'd 
In a sweet act, so sculptur'd to the life, 
He look'd no silent image. One had sworn 
He had said " Hail ! " for she was imag'd there, 
By whom the key did open to God's love; 
And in her act as sensibly imprest 
That word, " Behold the handmaid of the Lord," 
As figure sealed on wax. 

And very beautifully has Flaxman transferred the sculpture 
" divinely wrought upon the rock of marble white " to earthly 

The presence of the Holy Spirit in the historical Annuncia- 
tions is to accounted for by the words of St. Luke, and the 
visible form of the Dove is conventional and authorized. In 
many pictures the celestial Dove enters by the open casement. 
Sometimes it seems to brood immediately over the head of the 
Virgin ; sometimes it hovers towards her bosom. As for the 
perpetual introduction of the emblem of the Padre Eterno, seen 
above the sky, under the usual half-figure of a kingly ancient 
man, surrounded by a glory of cherubim, and sending forth 
upon a beam of light the immaculate Dove, there is nothing 
to be said but the usual excuse for the mediaeval artists, that 
certainly there was no conscious irreverence. The old painters, 
great as they were in Art, lived in ignorant but zealous times 
— in times when faith was so fixed, so much a part of the life 
and soul, that it was not easily shocked or shaken ; as it was 
not founded in knowledge or reason, so nothing that startled 
the reason could impair it. Religion, which now speaks to us 
through words, then spoke to the people through visible forms 
universally accepted ; and, in the Fine Arts, we accept such 


forms according to the feeling which then existed in men's 
minds, and which, in its sincerity, demands onr respect, though 
now we might not, could not, tolerate the repetition. We 
must also remember that it was not in the ages of ignorance 
and faith that we find the grossest materialism in Art. It was 
in the Learned half-pagan sixteenth and the polished seven- 
teenth century that this materialized theology became most 
offensive. Of all the artists who have sinned in the Annunci- 
ation, — and they are many, — Nicholas Poussin is perhaps the 
worst. Yet he was a good, a pious man, as well as a learned 
and accomplished painter. All through the history of the art, 
the French show themselves as the most signal violators of 
good taste, and what they have invented a word for — blen- 
xauice. They are w r orse than the old Germans; worse than 
the modern Spaniards — and that is saying much. 

In Raphael's Annunciation, Mary is seated in a reclining 
attitude, leaning against the side of her couch, and holding a 
book. The angel, whose attitude expresses a graceful em/presse- 
ment, kneels at some distance, holding the lily. 

Michael Angelo gives us a most majestic Virgin standing on 
the steps of a priedieu, and turning with hands upraised to- 
wards the angel, who appears to have entered by the open 
door ; his figure is most clumsy and material, and his attitude 
unmeaning and ungraceful. It is, I think, the only instance 
in which Michael Angelo has given w T ings to an angelic being ; 
for here they could not be dispensed with. 

In a beautiful Annunciation by John van Eyck (Munich 
Gallery), the Virgin kneels at a desk with a book before her. 
She has long fair hair, and a noble intellectual brow. Gabriel, 
holding his sceptre, stands in the doorway. The Dove enters 
by the lattice. A bed is in the background, and in front a 
pot of lilies. In another Annunciation by Van Eyck, painted 
on the Ghent altar-piece, we have the mystic, not the historical 
representation, and a very beautiful effect is produced by 
clothing both the angel and Mary in robes of pure white. (Ber- 
lin Gallery.) 

In an engraving after Rembrandt, the Virgin kneels by a 
fountain, and the angel kneels on the opposite side. This 
seems to express the legendary scene. 

[A valuable contribution to art representations of the An- 


nunciation is Dante Gabriel Rossetti's remarkable painting, 
"Ecce Ancilla Domini/' in the National Gallery, London. 
The artist's conception of the event is entirely unlike that of 
any of the old masters. The Virgin has awakened at dawn, 
and half rising from her couch gazes dreamily into space, her 
head drooping slightly with a pensive air, as if absorbed in the 
visions of her own mind. The angel is represented without 
wings and is clothed in a long straight tunic. He stands at 
the foot of the couch bearing a lily in one hand and raising the 
other in blessing. The picture is described and engraved in 
Van Dyke's " Christ-Child in Art," and in Farrar's " Life of 
Christ in Art." 

The Annunciation by Sir E. Burne-Jones is conceived more 
according to the spirit of the old masters. The Virgin is stand- 
ing under an arched portico with a thoughtful wondering ex- 
pression. The angel appears amid the foliage of a tree at the 
side, gazing down upon her. His elaborate drapery hangs in 
heavy folds ; his long wings droop beside him ; he is indeed 
rather a vision than an actual visitant, for there is no appear- 
ance of motion in his attitude.] 

These few observations on the general arrangement of the 
theme, whether mystical or historical, will, I hope, assist the 
observer in discriminating for himself. I must not venture 
further, for we have a wide range of subjects before us. 

The Visitation 

Ital. La Visitazione di Maria. Fr. La Visitation de la Vierge. 
Ger. Die Heimsuchung Maria. (July 2.) 

After the annunciation of the angel, the Scripture goes on 
to relate how " Mary arose and went up into the hill country 
with haste, to the house of her cousin Elizabeth, and saluted 
her." This meeting of the two kinswomen is the subject 
styled in Art the " Visitation," and sometimes the " Salutation 
of Elizabeth." It is of considerable importance, in a series 
of the life of the Virgin, as an event ; and also, when taken 
separately in its religious significance, as being the first recog- 
nition of the character of the Messiah. " Whence is this to 
me," exclaims Elizabeth, " that the mother of my Lord should 
come to me ? " (Luke i. 43) ; and as she spoke this through 


the influence of the Holy Spirit, and not through knowledge, 
she is considered in the light of a prophetess. 

Of Elizabeth I must premise a few words, because in many 
representations relating to the life of the Virgin, and particu- 
larly in those domestic groups, the Holy Families properly so 
called, she is a personage of great importance, and we ought to 
be able, by some preconceived idea of her bearing and charac- 
ter, to test the propriety of that impersonation usually adopted 
by the artists. We must remember that she was much older 
than her cousin, a woman " well stricken in years ; " but it is 
a great mistake to represent her as old, as wrinkled and de- 
crepit, as some painters have done. We are told that she was 
righteous before the Lord, ' " walking in all his commandments 
blameless : " the manner in which she received the visit of 
Mary, acknowledging with a glad humility the higher destinies 
of her young relative, shows her to have been free from all 
envy and jealousy. Therefore all pictures of Elizabeth should 
exhibit her as an elderly, but not an aged matron ; a dignified, 
mild, and gracious creature ; one selected to high honor by the 
Searcher of hearts, who ; looking down on hers, had beheld it 
pure from any secret taint of selfishness, even as her conduct 
had been blameless before man. 

Such a woman as we believe Mary to have been must have 
loved and honored such a woman as Elizabeth. Wherefore, 
having heard that Elizabeth had been exalted to a miraculous 
motherhood, she made haste to visit her, not to ask her advice 
— for being graced with all good gifts of the Holy Spirit, and 
herself the mother of Wisdom, she could not need advice — 
but to sympathize with her cousin and reveal what had hap- 
pened to herself. 

Thus then they met, " these two mothers of two great 
princes, of whom one was pronounced the greatest born of 
women, and the other was his Lord : " happiest and most 
exalted of all womankind before or since, " needs must they 
have discoursed like seraphim and the most ecstasied order of 
Intelligences ! " Such was the blessed encounter represented 
in the Visitation. 

The number of the figures, the locality, and circumstances, 
vary greatly. Sometimes we have only the two women, with- 


out accessories of any kind, and nothing interferes with the 
high solemnity of that moment in which Elizabeth confesses 
the mother of her Lord. The better to express this willing 
homage, this momentous prophecy, she is often kneeling. 
Other figures are frequently introduced, because it could not 
be supposed that Mary made the journey from Nazareth to 
the dwelling of Zacharias near Jerusalem, a distance of fifty 
miles, alone. Whether her husband Joseph accompanied her 
is doubtful ; and while many artists have introduced him, 
others have omitted him altogether. According to the ancient 
Greek formula laid down for the religious painters, Mary is 
accompanied by a servant or a boy, who carries a stick across 
his shoulder, and a basket slung to it. The old Italians who 
followed the Byzantine models seldom omit this attendant, but 
in some instances (as in the magnificent composition of Michael 
Angelo J ) a handmaid bearing a basket on her head is substi- 
tuted for the boy. In many instances Joseph, attired as a 
traveller, appears behind the Virgin, and Zacharias, in his 
priestly turban and costume, behind Elizabeth. 

The locality is often an open porch or a garden in front of 
a house ; and this garden of Zacharias is celebrated in Eastern 
tradition. It is related that the blessed Virgin, during her 
residence with her cousin Elizabeth, frequently recreated her- 
self by walking in the garden of Zacharias, whilst she medi- 
tated on the strange and lofty destiny to which she was 
appointed ; and further, that happening one day to touch a 
certain flower, which grew there, with her most blessed hand, 
from being inodorous before, it became from that moment 
deliciously fragrant. The garden, therefore, was a fit place 
for the meeting. 

1. The earliest representation of the Visitation to which I 
can refer is a rude but not ungraceful drawing, in the catacombs 
at Home, of two women embracing. It is not of very high an- 
tiquity, perhaps the seventh or eighth century, but there can 
be no doubt about the subject. (Cemetery of Julius : vide 
Bosio, Roma Sotterana.) 

2. Cimabue has followed the Greek formula, and his simple 
group appears to me to have great feeling and simplicity. 

3. More modern instances, from the date of the revival of 

1 [Once] in the possession of Mr. Bromley of Wootten. 



Art, abound in every form. Almost every painter who has 
treated subjects from the life of the Virgin has treated the 
Visitation. In the composition by Raphael, in the Madrid 
Gallery, there are the two figures only ; and I should object 


Visitation (Ghirlandajo) 

in this otherwise perfect picture to the bashful conscious look of 
the Virgin Mary. The heads are, however, eminently beauti- 
ful and dignified. In the far background is seen the baptism 
of Christ — very happily and significantly introduced, not 
merely as expressing the name of the votary who dedicated the 
picture, Giovan-Battista Branconio, but also as expressing the 
relation between the two unborn children, the Christ and his 

4. The group by Sebastian del Piombo is singularly grand, 
showing in every part the influence of Michael Angelo, but 
richly colored in Sebastian's best manner. The figures are 
seen only to the knees. In the background, Zacharias is seen 
hurrying down some steps to receive the Virgin. 1 

1 Louvre. There is, in the Louvre, another Visitation of singular and char- 
acteristic beauty by D. Ghirlandajo. 



5. The group by Pinturicchio, with the attendant angels, 
is remarkable for its poetic grace : and this, by Lucas v. Ley^ 
den, is equally remarkable for affectionate sentiment. 

6. Still more beautiful, and more dramatic and varied, is 
another composition by Pinturicchio in the Sala Borgia. (Vati- 
can, Rome.) The Virgin and St. Elizabeth, in the centre, 
take each other's hands. Behind the Virgin are St. Joseph, a 
maiden with a basket on her head, and other attendants. Be- 
hind St. Elizabeth we have a view into the interior of her 
house, through arcades richly sculptured ; and within, Zacha- 
rias is reading, and the handmaids of Elizabeth are spinning 
and sewing. This elegant fresco was painted for Alexander VI. 

Visitation (Lucas van Leyden) 

7. There is a fine picture of this subject by Andrea Sabba- 
tini of Salerno, the history of which is rather curious. " It 
was painted at the request of the Sanseverini, princes of Sa- 
lerno, to be presented to a nunnery in which one of that noble 


family had taken the veil. Under the form of the blessed 
Virgin, Andrea represented the Last princess of Salerno, who 
was of the family of Villa Marina; under that of St. Joseph, 
the prince her husband ; an old servant of the family figures 
as St. Elizabeth ; and in the features of Zacharias we recog- 
nize those of Bernardo Tasso, the father of Torquato Tasso, 
and then secretary to the prince of Salerno. After remaining 
for many years over the high altar of the church, it was re- 
moved through the scruples of one of the Neapolitan arch- 
bishops, who was scandalized by the impropriety of placing 
the portraits of well-known personages in such a situation." 
The picture, once removed from its place, disappeared, and by 
some means found its way to the Louvre. Andrea, who was 
one of the most distinguished of the scholars of Raphael, died 
in 1545. 1 

8. The composition by Rubens has all that scenic effect and 
dramatic movement which was characteristic of the painter. 
The meeting takes place on a flight of steps leading to the 
house of Zacharias. The Virgin w T ears a hat, as one just ar- 
rived from a journey ; Joseph and Zacharias greet each other ; 
a maiden with a basket on her head follows ; and in the fore- 
ground a man unloads the ass. [Antwerp cathedral.] 

I will mention two other examples, each perfect in its way, 
in two most opposite styles of treatment. 

9. The first is the simple majestic composition of Alberti- 
nelli, in the Uffizi, Florence. The two women, standing 
alone under a richly sculptured arch, and relieved against the 
bright azure sky, embrace each other. There are no accesso- 
ries. Mary is attired in dark blue drapery, and Elizabeth 
wears an ample robe of a saffron or rather amber color. The 
mingled grandeur, power, and grace, and depth of expression 
in these two figures, are quite extraordinary ; they look like 
what they are, and worthy to be mothers of the greatest of 
kings and the greatest of prophets. Albertinelli has here emu- 
lated his friend Eartolommeo — his friend, whom he so loved, 
that when, after the horrible execution of Savonarola, Bartolom- 
meo, broken-hearted, threw himself into the convent of St. 
Mark, Albertinelli became almost distracted and desperate. 
He would certainly, says Vasari, have gone into the same con- 

1 This picture is thus described In the old catalogues of the Louvre, but is not 
to be found in that of Villot. [Nor in Lafenestre and Kichtenberger.] 


vent, but for the hatred he bore the monks, " of whom he was 
always saying the most injurious things." 

Through some hidden influence of intense sympathy, Alber- 
tinelli, though in point of character the very antipodes of his 
friend, often painted so like him, that his pictures — and this 

Visitation (Albertinelli) 

noble picture more particularly — might be mistaken for the 
work of the Frate. 

10. We will now turn to a conception altogether different, 
and equally a masterpiece ; it is the small but exquisitely fin- 
ished composition by Rembrandt. (Grosvenor Gallery, London.) 
The scene is the garden in front of the house of Zacharias ; 
Elizabeth is descending the steps in haste to receive and em- 


brace with outstretched arms the Virgin Mary, who appears to 
have just alighted from her journey. The aged Zacharias, 
supported by a youth, is seen following Elizabeth to welcome 
their guest. Behind Mary stands a black female attendant, in 
the act of removing a mantle from her shoulders ; in the back- 
ground a servant, or (as I think) Joseph holds the ass on which 
Mary has journeyed ; a peacock with a gem-like train, and a hen 
with a brood of chickens (the latter the emblem of maternity), 
are in the foreground. Though the representation thus con- 
ceived appears like a scene of everyday life, nothing can be 
more poetical than the treatment, more intensely true and 
noble than the expression of the diminutive figures, more mas- 
terly and finished than the execution, more magical and lus- 
trous than the effect of the whole. The work of Albertinelli, in 
its large and solemn beauty and religious significance, is worthy 
of being placed over an altar, on which we might offer up the 
work of Rembrandt as men offer incense, gems, and gold. 

As the Visitation is not easily mistaken, I have said enough 
of it here ; and we pass to the next subject. 

The Dream of Joseph 

Although the Feast of the Visitation is fixed for the 2d of 
July, it was, and is, a received opinion, that Mary began her 
journey to the hill country but a short time, even a few days, 
after the annunciation of the angel. It was the sixth month 
with Elizabeth, and Mary sojourned with her three months. 
Hence it is supposed, by many commentators, that Mary must 
have been present at the birth of John the Baptist. It may 
seem surprising that the early painters should not have made 
use of this supposition. I am not aware that there exists 
among the numerous representations of the birth of St. John 
any instance of the Virgin being introduced ; it should seem 
that the lofty ideas entertained of the Mater Dei rendered it 
impossible to place, her in a scene where she would necessarily 
take a subordinate position : this, I think, sufficiently accounts 
for her absence. 1 Mary then returned to her own dwelling at 

1 There is, however, in the Liverpool Museum, a very exquisite miniature of 
the birth of St. John the Baptist, in which the female figure standing near rep- 
resents, I think, the Virgin Mary. It was cut out of a choral book of the Siena 


Nazareth ; and when Joseph (who in these legendary stories 
is constantly represented as a house-carpenter and builder, travel- 
ling about to exercise his trade in various places) also came back 
to his home, and beheld his wife, the suspicion entered his mind 
that she was about to become a mother, and very naturally his 
mind was troubled " with sorrow and insecure apprehensions; 
but being a just man, that is, according to the Scriptures and 
other wise writers, a good, a charitable man, he would not 
openly disgrace her, for he found it more agreeable to justice 
to treat an offending person with the easier sentence than to 
render her desperate, and without remedy, and provoked by 
the suffering of the worst of what she could fear. No obliga- 
tion to justice can force a man to be cruel ; pity, and forbear- 
ance, and long-suffering, and fair interpretation, and excusing 
our brother " (and our sister), " and taking things in the best 
sense, and passing the gentlest sentence, are as certainly our 
duty, and owing to every person who does offend and can 
repent, as calling men to account can be owing to the law." 
{Vide Bishop Taylor's Life of Christ.) Thus says the good 
Bishop Taylor, praising Joseph, that he was too truly just to 
call furiously for justice, and that, waiving the killing letter of 
the law, he was "minded to dismiss his wife privily ;" and in 
this he emulated the mercy of his divine foster Son, who did not 
cruelly condemn the woman whom he knew to be guilty, but 
dismissed her "to repent and sin no more." But while Joseph 
was pondering thus in his heart, the angel of the Lord, the 
prince of angels, even Gabriel, appeared to him in a dream, 
saying, u Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee 
Mary thy wife ! " and he awoke and obeyed that divine voice. 

This first vision of the angel is not in works of Art easily 
distinguished from the second vision ; but there is a charming 
fresco by Luini which can bear no other interpretation. Joseph 
is seated by the carpenter's bench, and leans his head on his 
hand, slumbering. (Milan, Brera.) An angel stands by him 
pointing to Mary, who is seen at a window above, busied with 

On waking from this vision, Joseph, says the legend, " en- 
treated forgiveness of Mary for having wronged her even in 
thought." This is a subject quite unknown, I believe, before 
the fifteenth century, and not commonly met with since, but there 
are some instances. On one of the carved stalls of the cathedral 


of Amiens it is very poetically treated ( Vide Stalles d 1 Amiens, 
p. 205.) Mary is seated on a throne under a magnificent 
canopy ; Joseph, kneeling before her and presented by two angels, 
pleads for pardon. She extends one hand to him ; in the other 
is the volume of the Holy Scriptures. There is a similar version 
of the text in sculpture over one of the doors of Notre Dame 
at Daris. There is also a picture by Alessandro Tiarini (Le 
repentir de Saint Joseph, Louvre), and reckoned by Malvasia 
his finest work, wherein Joseph kneels before the Virgin, who 
stands with a dignified air, and, while she raises him with one 
hand, points with the other up to heaven. Behind are seen 
the angel Gabriel with his finger on his lip, as commanding 
silence, and two other angels. . The figures are life size, the 
execution and color very fine ; the whole conception in the 
grand but mannered style of the Guido school. 

The Nativity 

Ital. II Presepio. II Nascimento del Nostro Signore. Fr. La 
Nativite. Ger. Die Geburt Christi. (Dec. 25.) 

The birth of our Saviour is related with characteristic sim- 
plicity and brevity in the Gospels ; but in the early Christian 
traditions this great event is preceded and accompanied by 
several circumstances which have assumed a certain importance 
and interest in the artistic representations. 

According to an ancient legend, the Emperor Augustus 
Caesar repaired to the sibyl Tiburtina, to inquire whether he 
should consent to allow himself to be worshipped with divine 
honors, which the Senate had decreed to him. The sibyl, 
after some days of meditation, took the emperor apart, and 
showed him an altar ; and above the altar, in the opening 
heavens, and in a glory of light, he beheld a beautiful Virgin 
holding an infant in her arms, and at the same time a voice 
was heard saying, " This is the altar of the Son of the living 
God ; " whereupon Augustus caused an altar to be erected on 
the Capitoline Hill, with this inscription, "Ara primogeniti 
Dei ; " and on the same spot, in later times, was built the 
Church called the Ara-Cceli, well known, with its flight of one 
hundred and twenty-four marble steps, to all who have visited 

Of the sibyls generally, in their relation to Sacred Art, I 


have already spoken. (Introduction.) This particular prophecy 
of the Tiburtina sibyl to Augustus rests on some very antique 
traditions, pagan as well as Christian. It is supposed to have 
suggested the " Pollio " of Virgil, which suggested the " Mes- 
siah " of Pope. It is mentioned by writers of the third and 
fourth centuries, and our own divines have not wholly rejected 
it, for Bishop Taylor mentions the sibyl's prophecy among 
"the great and glorious accidents happening about the birth 
of Jesus." (Life of Jesus Christ, sec. 4.) 

A very rude but curious bas-relief, preserved in the church 
of the Ara-Cceli, is perhaps the oldest representation extant. 
The church legend assigns to it a fabulous antiquity ; but it 
must be older than the twelfth century, as it is alluded to by 
writers of that period. Here the Emperor Augustus kneels 
before the Madonna and Child, and at his side is the sibyl Tibur- 
tina, pointing upwards. 

Since the revival of Art the incident has been frequently 
treated. It was painted on the vault of the choir of the Ara- 
Cceli. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries it became 
a favorite subject. It admitted of those classical forms, and 
that mingling of the heathen and the Christian in style and 
costume, which were calculated to please the churchmen and 
artists of the time, and the examples are innumerable. 

The most celebrated, I believe, is the fresco by Baldassare 
Peruzzi (Siena, Fonte Giusta), in which the figure of the sibyl 
is certainly very majestic, but the rest of the group utterly 
vulgar and commonplace. Less famous, but on the whole 
preferable in point of taste, is the group by Garofalo, in the 
palace of the Quirinal ; 1 and there is another by Titian, in 
which the scene is laid in a fine landscape after his manner. 
Vasari mentions a cartoon of this subject, painted by Rosso 
for Francis I., " among the best things Rosso ever produced," 
and introducing the king and queen of France, their guards, 
and a concourse of people, as spectators of the scene. In some 
instances the locality is a temple, with an altar before which 
kneels the emperor, having laid upon it his sceptre and laurel 
crown : the sibyl points to the vision seen through a window 
above. I think it is so represented in a large picture at Hamp- 
ton Court by Pietro da Cortona. 

1 [A diligent search in the Quirinal palace in 1894 fails to bring to light any 
picture of this description.] 



Sibyl's Prophecy (Peruzzi) 

The sibylline prophecy is supposed to have occurred a short 
time before the Nativity, about the same period when the 
decree went forth " that all the world should be taxed." 
Joseph, therefore, arose and saddled his ass, and set his wife 
upon it, and went up from Nazareth to Bethlehem. The way 


was long, and steep, and weary; " and when Joseph looked 
back, he saw the face of Mary that it was sorrowful, as of one 
in pain ; but when he looked back again she smiled. And 
when they were come to Bethlehem, there was no room for 
them in the inn, because of the great concourse of people. 
And Mary said to Joseph, ' Take me down, for I suffer.' " 

The journey to Bethlehem, and the grief and perplexity of 
Joseph, have been often represented. 1. There exists a very 
ancient Greek carving in ivory, wherein Mary is seated on the 
ass, with an expression of suffering, and Joseph tenderly sus- 
tains her ; she has one arm round his neck, leaning on him : 
an angel leads the ass, lighting the way with a torch. It is 
supposed that this curious relic formed part of the ornaments 
of the ivory throne of the exarch of Ravenna, and that it is 
at least as old as the sixth century. 1 2. There is an instance 
more dramatic in an engraving after a master of the seven- 
teenth century. Mary, seated on the ass, and holding the 
bridle, raises her eyes to heaven with an expression of resigna- 
tion ; Joseph, cap in hand, humbly expostulates with the mas- 
ter of the inn, who points towards the stable ; the innkeeper's 
wife looks up at the Virgin with a strong expression of pity and 
sympathy. 3. I remember another print of the same subject, 
where, in the background, angels are seen preparing the cradle 
in a cave. 

I may as well add that the Virgin, in this character of mys- 
terious, and religious, and most pure maternity, is venerated 
under the title of " La Madonna del Parto." Every one who 
has visited Naples will remember the church on the Mergellina, 
dedicated to the Madonna del Parto, where lies beneath his 
pagan tomb the poet Sannazzaro. Mr. Hallam, in a beautiful 
passage of his " History of the Literature of Europe," has 
pointed out the influence of the genius of Tasso on the whole 
school of Bolognese painters of that time. Not less striking was 
the influence of Sannazzaro and his famous poem on the Nativity 
("De Partu Virginis") on the contemporary productions of 
Italian Art, and more particularly as regards the subject under 
consideration ; I can trace it through all the schools of Art, 
from Milan to Naples, during the latter half of the sixteenth 
century. Of Sannazzaro's poem, Mr. Hallam says, that " it 

1 It is engraved in Gori's Thesaurus, and described in Hunter's Sinnbilder. 


would be difficult to find its equal for purity, elegance, and 
harmony of versification." It is not the less true, that even 
its greatest merits as a Latin poem exercised the most perverse 
influence on the Religious Art of that period. It was, indeed, 
only one of the many influences which may he said to have 
demoralized the artists of the sixteenth century, hut it was one 
of the greatest. 

The Nativity of our Saviour, like the Annunciation, has 
been treated in two ways — as a mystery and as an event, and 
we must he careful to discriminate between them. 

The Nativity as a Mystery 

In the first sense, the artist has intended simply to express 
the advent of the Divinity on earth in the form of an infant, 
and the motif is clearly taken from a text in the Office of 
the Virgin, " Virgo quern genuit adoravit." In the beautiful 
words of Jeremy Taylor, " She blessed him, she worshipped 
him, and she thanked him that he would be born of her ; " as, 
indeed, many a young mother has done before and since, when 
she has hung in adoration over the cradle of her first-born 
child — but here the child was to be a descended God ; and 
nothing, as it seems to me, can be more graceful and more 
profoundly suggestive than the manner in which some of the 
early Italian artists have expressed this idea. When, in such 
pictures, the locality is marked by the poor stable, or the 
rough rocky cave, it becomes " a temple full of religion, full 
of glory, where angels are the ministers, the holy Virgin the 
worshipper, and Christ the Deity." Very few accessories are 
admitted, merely such as serve to denote that the subject is 
"a Nativity," properly so called, and not the " Madre Pia," 
as already described. 

The divine Infant lies in the centre of the picture, some- 
times on a white napkin, sometimes with no other bed than 
the flowery turf ; sometimes his head rests on a wheat-sheaf, 
always here interpreted as " the bread of life." He places his 
finger on his lip, which expresses the Verbum sum ("Vere 
Verbum hoc est abbreviatum "), " I am the word," or " I am 
the bread of life " (" Ego sum panis ill vitse." John vi. 48) ; 
and fixes his eyes on the heavens above, where the angels are 



singing the Gloria in excelsis. In one instance, I remember 
[by Albertinelli], an angel holds up the cross before him ; in 
another, he grasps it in his hand ; or it is a nail, or the crown 
of thorns, anticipative of his earthly destiny. The Virgin kneels 
on one side ; St. Joseph, when introduced, kneels on the other ; 
and frequently angels unite with them in the act of adoration, 
or sustain the new-born Child. In this poetical version of 
the subject, Lorenzo di Credi, Perugino, Francia, and Bellini 

Nativity (Lorenzo di Credi) 

excelled all others. Lorenzo, in particular, became quite re- 
nowned for the manner in which he treated it, and a number 
of beautiful compositions from his hand exist in the Florentine 
and other galleries. There are also most charming examples 
in sculpture by Luca della Robbia, Donatello, and other mas- 
ters of the Florentine school. 

There are instances in which attendant saints and votaries 
are introduced as beholding and adoring this great mystery. 
1. For instance, in a picture by Cima da Conegliano [in the 
church of the Carmine, Venice], Tobit and the angel are in- 
troduced on one side, and St. Helena and St. Catherine on the 
other. 2. In a picture by Francia, in the Bologna Gallery, the 
Infant, reclining upon a white napkin, is adored by the kneel- 
ing Virgin, by St. Augustine, and by two angels also kneeling. 


The votary. Antonio Galeazzo Bentivoglio, for whom the pic- 
ture was painted, kneels in the habit of a pilgrim. 1 He had 
lately returned from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, 
thus poetically expressed in the scene of the Nativity, and the 
picture was dedicated as an act of thanksgiving as well as of 
faith. St. Joseph and St. Francis stand on one side ; on the 
other is a shepherd crowned with laurel. Francia, according 
to tradition, painted his own portrait as St. Francis ; and his 
friend the poet Girolamo Casio de' Medici as the shepherd. 
3. In a large and famous Nativity by Giulio Romano (Louvre), 
which once belonged to our Charles I., St. John the Evangel- 
ist and St. Longinus (who pierced our Saviour's side with his 
lance) are standing on each side as two witnesses to the di- 
vinity of Christ — here strangely enough placed on a par ; but 
we are reminded that Longinus had lately been inaugurated as 
patron of Mantua. (Vide Sacred and Legendary Art.) 

In a triptych by Hans Memling 2 (Berlin) we have in the 
centre the Child, adored, as usual, by the Virgin-mother and 
attending angels, the votary also kneeling : in the compart- 
ment on the right we find the manifestation of the Redeemer 
to the West exhibited in the prophecy of the sibyl to Augus- 
tus ; on the left, the manifestation of the Redeemer to the 
East is expressed by the journey of the Magi, and the miracu- 
lous star — " we have seen his star in the east." 

But of all these ideal Nativities, the most striking is one by 
Sandro Botticelli, which is indeed a comprehensive poem, a 
kind of hymn on the Nativity, and might be set to music. In 
the centre is a shed, beneath which the Virgin, kneeling, adores 
the Child, who has his finger on his lip. Joseph is seen a lit- 
tle behind, as if in meditation. On the right hand, the angel 
presents three figures (probably the shepherds), crowned with 
olive ; on the left is a similar group. On the roof of the shed, 
three angels, with olive-branches in their hands, sing the 
Gloria in excelsis. Above these are twelve angels dancing 
or floating round in a circle, holding olive-branches between 
them. In the foreground, in the margin of the picture, three 

1 "An excellent likeness," says Vasari. It is engraved as such in Litta's 
Memorials of the Beniiroyli. Girolamo Casio received the laurel crown from 
the hand of ('lenient VII. in 1h2'-i. A heautiful votive Madonna, dedicated by 
Girolamo Casio and his son Giacomo, and painted by Beltraftio, is in the Louvre 

2 [Catalogued to Roger van der Weyden.] 


figures rising out of the flames of purgatory are received and 
embraced by angels. With all its faint fantastic grace and 
dryness of execution, the whole conception is full of meaning, 
religious as well as poetical. The introduction of the olive 
and the redeemed souls may express " peace on earth, good-will 
towards men : " or the olive may likewise refer to that period 
of universal peace in which the Prince of Peace was born into 
the world. This singular picture, formerly in the Ottley col- 
lection, was, when I saw it, in the possession of Mr. Fuller 
Maitland of Stansted Park. [It was purchased by the Na- 
tional Gallery in 1878.] 

I must mention one more instance for its extreme beauty. 
In a picture in the Pitti at Florence [painter unknown] , the 
infant Christ lies on the ground on a part of the veil of the 
Virgin, and holds in his hand a bird. In the background, 
the miraculous star sheds on the earth a perpendicular blaze of 
light, and farther off are the shepherds. On the other side, 
St. Jerome, introduced, perhaps, because he made his abode at 
Bethlehem, is seated beside his lion. 

The Nativity as an Event 

We now come to the Nativity as historically treated, in 
which time, place, and circumstance have to be considered as 
in any other actual event. 

The time was the depth of winter, at midnight ; the place 
a poor stable. According to some authorities, this stable was 
the interior of a cavern, still shown at Bethlehem as the scene 
of the Nativity ; in front of which was a ruined house, once 
inhabited by Jesse, the father of David, and near the spot 
where David pastured his sheep : but the house was now a 
shed partly thatched, and open at that bitter season to all 
the winds of heaven. Here it was that the Blessed Virgin 
" brought forth her first-born Son, wrapped him in swaddling 
clothes, and laid him in a manger." 

We find in the early Greek representations, and in the early 
Italian painters who imitated the Byzantine models, that in the 
arrangement a certain pattern was followed : the locality is a 
sort of cave — literally a hole in a rock ; the Virgin-mother 
reclines on a couch ; near her lies the new-born Infant wrapped 
in swaddling clothes. In one very ancient example (a minia- 


ture of the ninth century in a Greek Menologium), an attend- 
ant is washing the Child. 

But from the fourteenth century we find this treatment dis- 
continued. It gave just oifence. The greatest theologians 
insisted that the birth of the Infant Christ was as pure and 
miraculous as his conception : and it was considered little less 
than heretical to portray Mary reclining on a couch as one 
exhausted by the pangs of childbirth (Isaiah lxvi. 7), or to 
exhibit assistants as washing the heavenly Infant. " To her 
alone," says St. Bernard, " did not the punishment of Eve 
extend." "Not in sorrow," says Bishop Taylor, " not in pain, 
but in the posture and guise of worshippers (that is, kneeling), 
and in the midst of glorious thoughts and speculations, did 
Mary bring her Son into the world." 

We must seek for the accessories and circumstances usu- 
ally introduced by the painters in the old legendary traditions 
then accepted and believed. (Protevangelion, xiv.) Thus one 
legend relates that Joseph went to seek a midwife, and met 
a woman coming down from the mountains, with whom he 
returned to the stable. But when they entered it was filled 
with light greater than the sun at noon-day ; and as the light 
decreased and they were able to open their eyes, they beheld 
Mary sitting there with her Infant at her bosom. And the 
Hebrew woman, being amazed, said, " Can this be true ? " and 
Mary anwered, "It is true ; as there is no child like unto my 
Son, so there is no woman like unto his mother." 

These circumstances we find in some of the early representa- 
tions, more or less modified by the taste of the artist. I have 
seen, for instance, an old German print, in which the Virgin, 
" in the posture and guise of worshippers," kneels before her 
child as usual ; while the background exhibits a hilly country, 
and Joseph, with a lantern in his hand, is helping a woman 
over a stile. Sometimes there are two women, and then the 
second is always Mary Salome, who, according to a passage in 
the same popular authority, visited the mother in her hour of 

The angelic choristers in the sky, or upon the roof of the 
stable, sing the Gloria in excelsis Deo ; they are never, I 
believe, omitted, and in early pictures are always three in 
number ; but in later pictures the mystic three become a 


chorus of musicians. Joseph is generally sitting by, leaning 
on his staff in profound meditation, or asleep as one overcome 
by fatigue ; or with a taper or a lantern in his hand, to express 
the night-time. 

Among the accessories, the ox and the ass are indispensable. 
The introduction of these animals rests on an antique tradition 
mentioned by St. Jerome, and also on two texts of prophecy : 
" The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib " 
(Isaiah i. 3) ; and Habakkuk iii. 4 is rendered in the Vulgate, 
" He shall lie down between the ox and the ass." From the 
sixth century, which is the supposed date of the earliest extant, 
to the sixteenth century, there was never any representation 
of the Nativity without these two animals; thus in the old 
carol so often quoted — 

Agnovit bos et asinus 
Quod Puer erat Dominus! 

In some of the earliest pictures the animals kneel, " confess- 
ing the Lord w (Isaiah xliii. 20). In some instances they 
stare into the manger with a most naive expression of amaze- 
ment at what they find there. One of the old Latin hymns, 
De Nativitate Domini, describes them, in that wintry night, 
as warming the new-born Infant with their breath ; and they 
have always been interpreted as symbols, the ox as emblem of 
the Jews, the ass of the Gentiles. 

I wonder if it has ever occurred to those who have studied 
the inner life and meaning of these old representations — owed 
to them, perhaps, homilies of wisdom, as well as visions of 
poetry — that the introduction of the ox and the ass, those 
symbols of animal servitude and inferiority, might be otherwise 
translated ; that their pathetic dumb recognition of the Saviour 
of the world might be interpreted as extending to them also a 
participation in his mission of love and mercy ; that since to 
the lower creatures it was not denied to be present at that 
great manifestation, they are thus brought nearer to the sym- 
pathies of our humanity, as we are thereby lifted to a nearer 
communion with the universal spirit of love. But this is 
" considering too deeply," perhaps, for the occasion. Return 
we to our pictures. Certainly we are not in danger of being 
led into any profound or fanciful speculations by the ignorant 
painters of the later schools of Art. In their " Nativities " 
the ox and ass are not, indeed, omitted ; they must be present 


by religious and prescriptive usage; but they are to be made 
picturesque, as if they were in the stable by right, and as if 
it were only a stable, not a temple hallowed to a diviner signifi- 
cance. The ass, instead of looking devoutly into the cradle, 
stretches out his lazy length in the foreground ; the ox winks 
his eyes with a more than bovine stupidity. In some of the 
old German pictures, while the Hebrew ox is quietly chewing 
the cud, the Gentile ass " lifts up his voice " and brays with 
open mouth, as if in triumph. 

One version of this subject, by Agnolo Gaddi, is conceived 
with much simplicity and originality. The Virgin and Joseph 
are seen together within a rude and otherwise solitary building. 
She points expressively to the manger where lies the divine 
Infant, while Joseph leans on his staff and appears lost in 

Correggio has been much admired for representing in his 
famous Nativity the whole picture as lighted by the glory 
which proceeds from the divine Infant, as if the idea had been 
new and original. (" La Notte," Dresden Gallery.) It occurs 
frequently before and since his time, and is founded on the 
legendary story quoted above, which describes the cave or 
stable filled with a dazzling and supernatural light. 

It is not often we find the Nativity represented as an his- 
torical event without the presence of the shepherds ; nor is the 
supernatural announcement to the shepherds often treated as a 
separate subject : it generally forms part of the background of 
the Nativity ; but there are some striking examples. 

In a print by Kembrandt he has emulated, in picturesque 
and poetical treatment, his famous Vision of Jacob, in the Dul- 
wich Gallery. 1 The angel (always supposed to be Gabriel) 
appears in a burst of radiance through the black wintry mid- 
night surrounded by a multitude of the heavenly host. The 
shepherds fall prostrate, as men amazed and "sore afraid " 
(Luke ii. 9), the cattle flee different ways in terror. I do not 
say that this is the most elevated way of expressing the scene ; 
but, as an example of characteristic style, it is perfect. 

1 [The Dulwich painting of Jacob's Dream is now catalogued as belonging to 
the school of Kembrandt.] 


The Adoration of the Shepherds 

Ital. L' Adorazione dei Pastori. Fr. LAdoration des Bergers. 
Ger. Die Anbetung der Hirten. 

The story thus proceeds : When the angels were gone away 
into heaven, the shepherds came with haste, "and found Mary, 
and Joseph, and the young Child lying in a manger." 

Being come, they present their pastoral offerings — a lamb, 
or doves, or fruits (but these, considering the season, are mis- 
placed) ; they take off their hats with reverence, and worship 
in rustic fashion. In Raphael's composition [one of the panels 
of the Loggia, Vatican], the shepherds, as we might expect 
from him, look as if they had lived in Arcadia. In some of 
the later Italian pictures they pipe and sing. It is the well- 
known custom in Italy for the shepherds of the Campagna, 
and of Calabria, to pipe before the Madonna and Child at 
Christmas time ; and these piffereri, with their sheepskin 
jackets, ragged hats, bagpipes, and tabors, were evidently the 
models reproduced in some of the finest pictures of the Bolo- 
gnese school ; for instance, in the famous Nativity by Annibal 
Caracci, where a picturesque figure in the corner is blowing 
into the bagpipes with might and main. In the Venetian 
pictures of the Nativity, the shepherds are accompanied by 
their women, their sheep, and even their dogs. According to 
an old legend, Simon and Jude, afterwards apostles, were 
among these shepherds. 

When the angels scatter flowers, as in compositions by 
Raphael and Ludovico Caracci, we must suppose that they 
were not gathered on earth, but in heaven. 

The Infant is sometimes asleep : so Milton sings — 

But see the Virgin blest 
Hath laid her Babe to rest ! 

In a drawing by Raphael the Child slumbers, and Joseph 
raises the coverlid to show him to a shepherd. We have the 
same idea in several other instances. In a graceful composition 
by Titian, it is the Virgin-mother who raises the veil from the 
face of the sleeping Child. 

From the number of figures and accessories, the Nativity 
thus treated as an historical subject becomes capable of almost? 



Adoration of the Shepherds (Mengs) 

endless variety ; but as it is one not to be mistaken, and has a 
universal meaning and interest, I may now leave it to the fancy 
and discrimination of the observer. 


The Adoration of the Magi 

Ital. L' Adorazione de' Magi. L' Epifania. Fr. L' Adoration des 
Rois Mages. Ger. Die Anbetung der Weisen aus dem Morgen- 
land. Die heilige drei Konigen. (Jan. 6.) 

This, the most extraordinary incident in the early life of 
our Saviour, rests on the authority of one evangelist only. It 
is related by St. Matthew so briefly as to present many histor- 
ical and philosophical difficulties. I must give some idea of 
the manner in which these difficulties were elucidated by the 
early commentators, and of the notions which prevailed in the 
middle ages relative to the country of the three Kings, before 
it will be possible to understand or to appreciate the subject 
as it has been set before us in every style of Art, in every 
form, in every material, from the third century to the present 

In the first place, who were these Magi, or these kings, as 
they are sometimes styled ? " To suppose," says the antique 
legend, "that they were called Magi because. they were ad- 
dicted to magic, or exercised unholy or forbidden arts, would 
be, heaven save us ! a rank heresy." No ! Magi, in the Per- 
sian tongue, signifies " wise men." They were, in their own 
country, kings or princes, as it is averred by all the ancient 
fathers ; and we are not to be offended at the assertion, that 
they were at once princes and wise men — " Car a 1' usage de 
ce temps- la les princes et les rois dtoient tres sages ! " 1 

They came from the eastern country, but from what country 
is not said ; whether from the land of the Arabians, or the 
Chaldeans, or the Persians, or the Parthians. 

It is written in the Book of Numbers, that when Balaam, 
the son of Beor, was called upon to curse the children of Israel, 
he, by divine inspiration, uttered a blessing instead of a curse. 
And he took up this parable, and said, " I shall see him, but 
not now ; I shall behold him, but not nigh : there shall come 
a star out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel." 
And the people of that country, though they were Gentiles, 
kept this prophecy as a tradition among them, and waited with 
faith and hope for its fulfilment. When, therefore, their 

1 Quoted literally from the legend in the old French version of the Flos Sanc- 
torum. [For in those days princes and kings were usually very wise.] 


princes and wise men beheld a star different in its appearance 
and movement from those which they had been accustomed to 
study (for they were great astronomers), they at once knew its 
import, and hastened to follow its guidance. According to an 
ancient commentary on St. Matthew, this star, on its first 
appearance, had the form of a radiant child hearing a sceptre 
or cross. In a fresco by Taddeo Gaddi it is thus figured, and 
this is the only instance I can remember. But to proceed with 
our story. 

When the eastern sages beheld this wondrous and long- 
expected star, they rejoiced greatly ; and they arose, and taking 
leave of their lands and their vassals, their relations and their 
friends, set forth on their long and perilous journey across vast 
deserts and mountains and broad rivers, the star going before 
them, and arrived at length at Jerusalem, with a great and 
splendid train of attendants. Being come there, they asked at 
once, " Where is he who is born King of the Jews ? " On 
hearing this question, King Herod was troubled, and all the 
city with him ; and he inquired of the chief priests where 
Christ should be born. And they said to him, " In Bethlehem 
of Judea." Then Herod privately called the w T ise men, and 
desired they would go to Bethlehem, and search, for the young 
Child (he was careful not to call him King), saying, " When 
ye have found him, bring me word, that I may come and wor- 
ship him also." So the Magi departed, and the star which they 
had seen in the east went before them, until it stood over the 
place where the young Child was — he who was born King of 
kings. They had travelled many a long and weary mile ; " and 
what had they come for to see ? n Instead of a sumptuous 
palace, a mean and lowly dwelling ; in place of a monarch sur- 
rounded by his guards and ministers and all the terrors of his 
state, an Infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid, upon 
his mother's knee, between the ox and the ass. They had 
come, perhaps, from some far-distant savage land, or from some 
nation calling itself civilized, where innocence had never been 
accounted sacred, where society had as yet taken no heed of 
the defenceless woman, no care for the helpless Child ; where 
the one was enslaved, and the other perverted ; and here, under 
the form of womanhood and childhood, they were called upon 
to worship the promise of that brighter future, when peace 
should inherit the earth, and righteousness prevail over deceit, 


and gentleness with wisdom reign for ever and ever ! How 
must they have been amazed ! how must they have wondered 
in their souls at such a revelation ! — yet such was the faith 
of these wise men and excellent kings, that they at once pros- 
trated themselves, confessing in the glorious Innocent who 
smiled upon them from his mother's knee, a greater than them- 
selves — the image of a truer divinity than they had ever yet 
acknowledged. And having bowed themselves down, — first, 
as was most fit, offering themselves, — they made offering of 
their treasure, as it had been written in ancient times, " The 
kings of Tarshish and the isles shall bring presents, and the 
kings of Sheba shall offer gifts." And what were these gifts ? 
Gold, frankincense, and myrrh ; by which symbolical oblation 
they protested a threefold faith : by gold, that he was king ; 
by incense, that he was God ; by myrrh, that he was man, and 
doomed to death. In return for their gifts, the Saviour be- 
stowed upon them others of more matchless price. For their 
gold he gave them charity and spiritual riches ; for their in- 
cense, perfect faith ; and for their myrrh, perfect truth and 
meekness : and the Virgin, his mother, also bestowed on them 
a precious gift and memorial, namely, one of those linen bands 
in which she had wrapped the Saviour, for which they thanked 
her with great humility, and laid it up amongst their treasures. 
When they had performed their devotions, and made their 
offerings, being warned in a dream to avoid Herod, they turned 
back again to their own dominions ; and the star which had 
formerly guided them to the west now went before them to- 
wards the east, and led them safely home. When they were 
arrived there, they laid down their earthly state ; and in emula- 
tion of the poverty and humility in which they had found the 
Lord of all power and might, they distributed their goods and 
possessions to the poor, and went about in mean attire, preach- 
ing to their people the new King of heaven and earth, the 
Child-King, the Prince of Peace. We are not told what was 
the success of their mission ; neither is it anywhere recorded 
that from that time forth every child, as it sat on its mother's 
knee, was, even for the sake of that Prince of Peace, regarded 
as sacred — as the heir of a divine nature — as one whose tiny 
limbs enfolded a spirit which was to expand into the man, the 
king, the God. Such a result was, perhaps, reserved for other 
times, when the whole mission of that Divine Child should be 


better understood than it was then, or is now. But there is 
an ancient oriental tradition that about forty years later, when 
St. Thomas the apostle travelled into the Indies, he found 
these wise men there, and did administer to them the rite of 
baptism ; and that afterwards, in carrying the light of truth 
into the far East, they fell among barbarous Gentiles and 
were put to death ; thus each of them receiving, in return for 
the earthly crowns they had cast at the feet of the Saviour, 
the heavenly crown of martyrdom and of everlasting life. 

Their remains, long afterwards discovered, were brought to 
Constantinople by the Empress Helena ; thence in the time of 
the first crusade they were transported to Milan, whence they 
were carried off by the Emperor Barbarossa, and deposited in 
the cathedral at Cologne, where they remain to this day, laid 
in a shrine of gold and gems, and have performed divers great 
and glorious miracles. 

Such, in few words, is the Church legend of the Magi of 
the East, the " Three Kings of Cologne," as founded on the 
mysterious gospel incident. Statesmen and philosophers, not 
less than ecclesiastics, have, as yet, missed the whole sense 
and large interpretation of the mystic as well as the scrip- 
tural story, but well have the artists availed themselves of its 
picturesque capabilities ! In their hands it has gradually 
expanded from a mere symbol into a scene of the most dra- 
matic and varied effect and the most gorgeous splendor. As a 
subject it is one of the most ancient in the whole range of 
Christian Art. Taken in the early religious sense, it signified 
the calling of the Gentiles ; and as such we find it carved in 
bas-relief on the Christian sarcophagi of the third and fourth 
centuries, and represented with extreme simplicity. The Vir- 
gin-mother is seated on a chair, and holds the Infant upright 
on her knee. The Wise Men, always three in number, and 
all alike, approach in attitudes of adoration. In some in- 
stances they wear Phrygian caps, and their camels' heads 
are seen behind them, serving to express the land whence they 
came, the land of the East, as well as their long journey ; as 
on one of the sarcophagi in the Christian Museum of the Vati- 
can. The star in these antique sculptures is generally omitted ; 
but in one or two instances it stands immediately over the 
chair of the Virgin. On a sarcophagus near the entrance of 


the tomb of Gal la Placidia, at Ravenna, they are thus repre- 

The mosaic in the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, at Rome, 
is somewhat later in date than these sarcophagi (a. d. 440), 
and the representation is very peculiar and interesting. Here 
the Child is seated alone on a kind of square pedestal, with 
his hand raised in benediction ; behind the throne stand two 
figures, supposed to be the Virgin and Joseph ; on each side, 
two angels. The kings approach, dressed as Roman warriors, 
with helmets on their heads. 

In the mosaic in the church of Sant' Apollinare Nuovo, at 
Ravenna (a. d. 534), the Virgin receives them seated on a 
throne, attended by the archangels ; they approach, wearing 
crowns on their heads, and bending in attitudes of reverence : 
all three figures are exactly alike, and rather less in proportion 
than the divine group. 

Immediately on the revival of Art we find the Adoration 
of the Kings treated in the Byzantine style, with few acces- 
sories. Very soon, however, in the early Florentine school, 
the artists began to avail themselves of that picturesque variety 
of groups of which the story admitted. 

In the legends of the fourteenth century the kings had 
become distinct personages, under the names of Caspar (or Jas- 
per), Melchior, and Balthasar : the first being always a very 
aged man with a long white beard ; the second a middle-aged 
man ; the third is young, and frequently he is a Moor or ne- 
gro, to express the king of Ethiopia or Nubia, and also to in- 
dicate that when the Gentiles were called to salvation, all the 
continents and races of the earth, of whatever complexion, 
were included. The difference of ages is indicated in the 
Greek formula ; but the difference of complexion is a modern 
innovation, and more frequently found in the German than in 
the Italian schools. In the old legend of the Three Kings, as 
inserted in Wright's " Chester Mysteries," Jasper, or Caspar, 
is king of Tarsus, the land of merchants ; he makes the offer- 
ing of gold ; Melchior, the king of Arabia and Nubia, offers 
frankincense ; and Balthasar, king of Saba, — " the land of 
spices and all manner of precious gums," — offers myrrh. 1 

1 The names of the three Kings appear for the first time in a piece of rude 
sculpture over the door of Sant' Andrea at Pistoia, to which is assigned the date 
1166. (Vide D'Agincourt, Scultwa, pi. xxvii.) 


It is very usual to find, in the Adoration of the Magi, the 
angelic announcement to the shepherds introduced into the 
background ; or, more poetically, the Magi approaching on one 
side, and the shepherds on the other. The intention is then 
to express a double signification ; it is at once the manifesta- 
tion to the Jews and the manifestation to the Gentiles. 

The attitude of the Child varies. In the best pictures he 
raises his little hand in benediction. The objection that he 
was then only an infant of a few days old is futile ; for he was 
from his birth the Christ. It is also in accordance with the 
beautiful and significant legend which describes him as dispens- 
ing to the old 'Wise Men the spiritual blessings of love, meek- 
ness, and perfect faith, in return for their gifts and their 
homage. It appears to me bad taste, verging on profanity, to 
represent him plunging his little hand into the coffer of gold, 
or eagerly grasping one of the gold pieces. Neither should he 
be wrapped up in swaddling clothes, nor in any way a subor- 
dinate figure in the group ; for it is the Epiphany, the Mani- 
festation of a divine humanity to Jews and Gentiles, which is 
to be expressed ; and there is meaning as well as beauty in 
those compositions which represent the Virgin as lifting a veil, 
and showing him to the Wise Men. 

The kingly character of the adorers, which became in the 
thirteenth century a point of faith, is expressed by giving them 
all the paraphernalia and pomp of royalty according to the 
customs of the time in which the artist lived. They are fol- 
lowed by a vast train of attendants, guards, pages, grooms, 
falconers with hawks ; and, in a picture by Gaudenzio Ferrari, 
we have the court-dwarf, and, in a picture by Titian, the court- 
fool, both indispensable appendages of royal state in those 
times. The Kings themselves wear embroidered robes, crowns, 
and glittering weapons, and are booted and spurred as if just 
alighted from a long journey ; even on one of the sarcophagi 
they are seen in spurs. 

The early Florentine and Venetian painters profited by the 
commercial relations of their countries with the Levant, and 
introduced all kinds of outlandish and oriental accessories to 
express the far country from which the strangers had arrived ; 
thus we have among the presents, apes, peacocks, pheasants, 
and parrots. The traditions of the crusades also came in aid, 
and hence we have the plumed and jewelled turbans, the arm- 


lets and the scimitars, and, in the later pictures, even umbrellas 
and elephants. I remember, in an old Italian print of this 
subject, a pair of hunting leopards or chetas. 

It is a question whether Joseph was present — whether he 
ought to have been present : in one of the early legends it is 
asserted that he hid himself and would not appear, out of his 
great humility, and -because it should not be supposed that he 
arrogated any relationship to the divine Child. But this ver- 
sion of the scene is quite inconsistent with the extreme vener- 
ation afterwards paid to Joseph ; and in later times, that is, 
from the fifteenth century, he is seldom omitted. Sometimes 
he is seen behind the chair of the Virgin, leaning on his stick, 
and contemplating the scene with a quiet admiration. Some- 
times he receives the gifts offered to the Child, acting the part 
of a treasurer or chamberlain. In a picture by Angelico one 
of the Magi grasps his hand as if in congratulation. In a 
composition by Parmigiano one of the Magi embraces him. 

It was not uncommon for pious votaries to have themselves 
painted in likeness of one of the adoring Kings. In a pic- 
ture by Sandro Botticelli (Uffizi, Florence). Cosmo de' Medici 
is thus introduced ; and in a large and beautifully arranged 
composition by Leonardo da Vinci, which unhappily remains as 
a sketch only, the three Medici of that time, Cosmo, Lorenzo, 
and Giuliano, are figured as the three Kings. (Uffizi, Flor- 

A very remarkable altar-piece [catalogued to Gerard David] 
represents the worship of the Magi. In the centre, Mary and 
her Child are seated within a ruined temple ; the eldest of the 
three Kings, kneeling, does homage by kissing the hand of 
the Child : it is the portrait of Philip the Good, duke of Bur- 
gundy. The second, prostrate behind him with a golden 
beaker in his hand, is supposed to be one of the great officers 
of his household. The third King exhibits the characteristic 
portrait of Charles the Bold ; there is no expression of humility 
or devotion either in his countenance or attitude ; he stands 
upright, with a lofty disdainful air, as if he were yet unre- 
solved whether he would kneel or not. On the right of the 
Virgin, a little in the foreground, stands Joseph in a plain red 
dress, holding his hat in his hand, and looking with an air of 
simple astonishment at his magnificent guests. All the ac- 
cessories in this picture, the gold and silver vessels, the dresses 




of the three Kings sparkling with jewels and pearls, the vel- 
vets, silks, and costly furs, are painted with the most exquisite 
finish and delicacy, and exhibit to us the riches of the court 
of Burgundy. (.Munich.) 

In Raphael's composition (Rome, Vatican) the worshippers 
wear the classical, not the oriental costume ; but an elephant 
with a monkey on his hack is seen in the distance, which at 
once reminds us of the far East. 

Ghirlandajo frequently painted the Adoration of the Magi, 

Adoration of the Kings (Memling) 

and shows in his management of the accessories much taste 
and symmetry. In one of his compositions the shed forms a 
canopy in the centre ; two of the Kings kneel in front. The 
country of the Ethiopian King is not expressed by making 
him of a black complexion, but by giving him a negro page, 
who is in the act of removing his master's crown. (Florence, 

A very complete example of artificial and elaborate compo- 
sition may be found in the drawing by Baldassare Peruzzi in 


our National Gallery. It contains at least fifty figures ; in 
the centre, a magnificent architectural design; and wonderful 
studies of perspective to the right and left, in the long lines 
of receding groups. On the whole, it is a most skilful piece 
of work ; but to my taste much like a theatrical decoration, — 
pompous without being animated. 

A beautiful composition by Francia I must not pass over. 1 
Here, to the left of the picture, the Virgin is seated on the steps 
of a ruined temple, against which grows a fig-tree, which, though 
it be December, is in full leaf. Joseph kneels at her side, and 
behind her are two Arcadian shepherds, with the ox and the ass. 
The Virgin, who has a charming air of modesty and sweetness, 
presents her Child to the adoration of the Wise Men : the first 
of these kneels with joined hands ; the second, also kneeling, 
is about to present a golden vase ; the negro King, standing, 
has taken off his cap, and holds a censer in his hand ; and 
the divine Infant raises his hand in benediction. Behind the 
Kings are three figures on foot, one a beautiful youth in an 
attitude of adoration. Beyond these are five or six figures on 
horseback, and a long train upon horses and camels is seen ap- 
proaching in the background. The landscape is very beautiful 
and cheerful ; the whole picture much in the style of Francia's 
master, Lorenzo Costa. I should at the first glance have sup- 
posed it to be his, but the head of the Virgin is unmistakably 

There are instances of this subject, idealized into a mystery ; 
for example, in a picture by Pal ma Vecchio. (Milan, Brera.) 
St. Helena stands behind the Virgin, in allusion to the legend 
which connects her with the history of the Kings. [The pic- 
ture was painted for the church of S. Elena in Isola, near 
Venice. As the master fell ill before it was finished, it is 
probable that the work was completed by his pupil Cariani. 2 ] 
In a picture by Garofalo, the star shining above is attended by 
angels bearing the instruments of the Passion, while St. Bar- 
tholomew, holding his skin, stands near the Virgin and Child : 
it was painted for the abbey of St. Bartholomew, at Ferrara. 

Among the German examples, the picture by Albert Durer, 

1 Dresden Gallery. Arnold, the well-known print-seller at Dresden, has pub- 
lished a very beautiful and finished engraving of this fine picture; the more 
valuable, because engravings after Francia are very rare. 

2 [See Morelli, Critical Studies, vol. ii. pp. 30, 44.] 

Adoration of the Kings (Martin Schoen) 


in the tribune of the Uffizi, Florence ; and that of Mabuse, in 
the collection of Lord Carlisle [Castle Howard], are perhaps 
the most perfect of their kind. 

In the last-named picture the Virgin, seated, in a plain 
dark blue mantle, with the German physiognomy, but large 
browed, and w r ith a very serious, sweet expression, holds the 
Child. The eldest of the Kings, as usual, offers a vase of 
gold, out of which Christ has taken a piece, which he holds in 
his hand. The name of the King, Jasper, is inscribed on the 
vase ; a younger King behind holds a cup. The black Ethi- 
opian King, Balthasar, is conspicuous on the left ; he stands, 
crowned and arrayed in gorgeous drapery, and, as if more fully 
to mark the equality of the races, at least in spiritual privi- 
leges, his train is borne by a white page. An exquisite 
landscape is seen through the arch behind, and the shepherds 
are approaching in the middle distance. On the whole, this 
is one of the most splendid pictures of the early Flemish school 
I have ever seen ; for variety of character, glow of color, and 
finished execution, quite unsurpassed. 

In a very rich composition by Lucas van Leyden, Herod is 
seen in the background, standing in the balcony of his palace, 
and pointing out the scene to his attendants. [The illustration 
after Martin Schoen shows the characteristics of the German 

As we might easily imagine, the ornamental painters of the 
Venetian and Flemish schools delighted in this subject, which 
allowed them full scope for their gorgeous coloring, and all 
their scenic and dramatic power. Here Paul Veronese 1 revelled 
unreproved in Asiatic magnificence : here his brocaded robes 
and jewelled diadems harmonized with his subject; and his 
grand, old, bearded Venetian senators figured, not unsuitably, 
as Eastern Kings. Here Rubens lavished his ermine and 
crimson draperies, his vases, and ewers, and censers of flaming 
gold ; here poured over his canvas the wealth " of Ormuz and 
of Ind." Of fifteen pictures of this subject, which he painted 
at different times, the finest undoubtedly is that in the Madrid 
Gallery. Another, also very fine, is in the collection of the 
Marquis of Westminster. In both these, the Virgin, contrary 
to all former precedent, is not seated, but standing, as she 

1 [Four celebrated paintings of this subject by Veronese are those in the 
Brera, Milan; the National Gallery, London; in Dresden, and in Vienna.] 


holds up her Child for worship. Afterwards we find the same 
position of the Virgin in pictures by Vandyck, Poussin, and 
other painters of the seventeenth century. It is quite an inno- 
vation on the old religious arrangement ; but in the utter ab- 
sence of all religious feeling, the mere arrangement of the fig- 
ures, except in an artistic point of view, is of little consequence. 

As a scene of oriental pomp, heightened by mysterious 
shadows and flashing lights, L know nothing equal to the Rem- 
brandt in the Queen's Gallery [Buckingham Palace]; the pro- 
cession of attendants seen emerging from the background 
through the transparent gloom is quite awful ; but in this 
miraculous picture the lovely Virgin-mother is metamorphosed 
into a coarse Dutch rroir, and the divine Child looks like a 
changeling imp. 

In chapels dedicated to the Nativity or the Epiphany we 
frequently find the journey of the Wise Men painted round 
the walls. They are seen mounted on horseback, or on camels, 
with a long train of attendants, here ascending a mountain, 
there crossing a river ; here winding through a defile, there 
emerging from a forest ; while the miraculous star shines above, 
pointing out the way. Sometimes we have the approach of 
the Wise Men on one side of the chapel, and their return to 
their own country on the other. On their homeward journey 
they are, in some few instances, embarking in a ship : this occurs 
in a fresco by Lorenzo Costa, and in a bas-relief in the cathe- 
dral of Amiens. The allusion is to a curious legend, mentioned 
by Arnobius the Younger, in his commentary on the Psalms 
(fifth century). He says, in reference to the 48th Psalm, that 
when Herod found that the three Kings had escaped from him 
" in ships of Tarsus,'' in his wrath he burned all the vessels 
in the port. 

There is a beautiful fresco of the journey of the Magi in 
the Kiccardi chapel at Florence, painted by Benozzo Gozzoli 
for the old Cosmo de' Medici. 

11 The Baptism of the Magi by St. Thomas " is one of the 
compartments of the Life of the Virgin, painted by Taddeo 
Gaddi, in the Baroncelli chapel at Florence, and this is the 
only instance I can refer to. 

Before I quit this subject — one of the most interesting in 
the whole range of Art — I must mention a picture by Giorgione 


in the Belvedere Gallery, well known as one of the few un- 
doubted productions of that rare and fascinating painter, and 
often referred to because of its beauty. Its signification has 
hitherto escaped all writers on Art, as far as I am acquainted 
with them, and has been dismissed as one of his enigmatical 
allegories. It is called in German, Die Feldmdsser 1 (the 
Land Surveyors), and sometimes styled in English the Geom- 
etricians, or the Philosophers, or the Astrologers. It repre- 
sents a wild, rocky landscape, in which are three men. The 
first, very aged, in an oriental costume, with a long gray beard, 
stands holding in his hand an astronomical table ; the next, 
a man in the prime of life, seems listening to him ; the third, a 
youth, seated and looking upwards, holds a compass. I have 
myself no doubt that this beautiful picture represents the 
" three Wise Men of the East " watching on the Chaldean 
hills the appearance of the miraculous star, and that the light 
breaking in the far horizon, called in the German description 
the rising sun, is intended to express the rising of the star of 
Jacob. 2 In the sumptuous landscape, and color, and the pic- 
turesque rather than religious treatment, this picture is quite 
Venetian. The interpretation here suggested I leave to the 
consideration of the observer ; and without allowing myself to 
be tempted on to further illustration, will only add, in con- 
clusion, that I do not remember any Spanish picture of this 
subject remarkable either for beauty or originality. 

The Purification of the Virgin, the Presentation, 
and the Circumcision of Christ 

Ital. La Purificazione della B. Vergine. Ger. Die Darbringung 

im Tempel. Die Beschneidung Christi. 

After the birth of her Son, Mary was careful to fulfil all 
the ceremonies of the Mosaic law. As a first-born son, he 
was to be redeemed by the offering of five shekels, or a pair 
of young pigeons (in memory of the first-born of Egypt). 
But previously, being born of the children of Abraham, the 
infant Christ was submitted to the sanguinary rite which sealed 
the covenant of Abraham, and received the name of Jesus — 

1 [Catalogued in 1892 as Die drei morgenlundischen Weiaen.] 

2 There is also a print by Giulio Bonasone, which appears to represent the 
Wise Men watching for the star. (Bartsch, Le Peintre Graveur, vol. xv. p. 156.) 


" that name, before which every knoe was to how," which was 
to ho set ahove the powers of magic, the mighty rites of sorcer- 
ers, the secrets of Memphis, the drugs of Thessaly, the silent 
and mysterious murmurs of the wise Chaldees, and the spells of 
Zoroaster; that name which we should engrave on our hearts 
and pronounce with our most harmonious accents, and rest our 
faith on, and place our hopes in, and love with the overflow- 
ing of charity, joy, and adoration. ( Vide Bishop Taylor's Life 
of Christ.) 

The circumcision and the naming of Christ have many times 
been painted to express the first of the sorrows of the Virign, 
being the first of the pangs which her Son was to suffer on earth. 
But the Presentation in the Temple has heen selected with 
better taste for the same purpose ; and the prophecy of Simeon, 
u Yea, a sword shall pie ice through thy own soul also," be- 
comes the first of the Seven Sorrows. It is an undecided 
point whether the Adoration of the Magi took place thirteen 
days, or one year and thirteen days after the birth of Christ. 
In a series of subjects artistically arranged, the Epiphany 
always precedes, in order of time, that scene in the temple 
which is sometimes styled the Purification, sometimes the Pres- 
entation, and sometimes the Nunc Dimittis. They are three 
distinct incidents ; but, as far as I can judge, neither the paint- 
ers themselves, nor those who have named pictures, have been 
careful to discriminate between them. On a careful examina- 
tion of various compositions, some of special celebrity, which 
are styled, in a general way, the Presentation in the Temple, 
it will appear, I think, that the idea uppermost in the paint- 
er's mind has been to represent the prophecy of Simeon. 

No doubt, in later times, the whole scene, as a subject of 
Art, was considered in reference chiefly to the Virgin, and the 
intention was to express the first of her Seven Sorrows. But 
in ancient Art, and especially in Greek Art, the character of 
Simeon assumed a singular significance and importance) which 
so long as modern Art was influenced by the traditional Byzan- 
tine types, modified, in some degree, the arrangement and sen- 
timent of this favorite subject. 

It is related that when Ptolemy Philadelphus, about 260 
years before Christ, resolved to have the Hebrew Scriptures 
translated into Greek, for the purpose of placing them in his 
far-famed library, he dispatched messengers to Eleazar, the 


High Priest of the Jews, requiring him to send scribes and 
interpreters learned in the Jewish law to his court in Alexan- 
dria. Thereupon Eleazar selected six of the most learned 
rabbis from each of the twelve tribes of Israel, seventy-two 
persons in all, and sent them to Egypt, in obedience to the 
commands of King Ptolemy, and among these was Simeon, a 
priest, and a man full of learning. And it fell to the lot of 
Simeon to translate the book of the prophet Isaiah. And 
when he came to that verse where it is written, " Behold, a 
Virgin shall conceive and bear a son," he began to misdoubt, 
in his own mind, how this could be possible ; and, after long 
meditation, fearing to give scandal and offence to the Greeks, 
he rendered the Hebrew word Virgin by a Greek word which 
signifies merely a yonng woman; but when he had written it 
down, behold an angel effaced it, and substituted the right 
word. Thereupon he wrote it again and again ; and the same 
thing happened three times ; and he remained astonished and 
confounded. And while he wondered what this should mean, a 
ray of divine light penetrated his soul ; it was revealed to him 
that the miracle, which, in his human wisdom, he had presumed 
to doubt, was not only possible, but that he, Simeon, " should 
not see death till he had seen the Lord's Christ." Therefore 
he tarried on earth, by the divine will, for nearly three cen- 
turies, till that which he had disbelieved had come to pass. 
He was led by the Spirit to the temple on the very day when 
Mary came there to present her Son, and to make her offering, 
and immediately, taking the Child in his arms, he exclaimed, 
" Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according 
to thy word." And of the Virgin-mother, also, he prophesied 
sad and glorious tilings. 

Anna the Prophetess, who was standing by, also testified to 
the presence of the theocratic King ; but she did not take him 
in her arms, as did Simeon. (Luke ii. 38.) Hence, she was 
early regarded as a type of the synagogue, which prophesied 
great things of the Messiah, but, nevertheless, did not embrace 
him when he appeared, as did the Gentiles. 

That these curious legends relative to Simeon and Anna, 
and their symbolical interpretation, were well known to the 
old painters, there can be no doubt ; and both were perhaps in 
the mind of Bishop Taylor when he wrote his eloquent chap- 
ter on the Presentation. " There be some," he says, " who 



Presentation in the Temple (Byzantine) 

wear the name of Christ on their heads, to make a show to 
the world ; and there be some who have it always in their 
mouths ; and there be some who carry Christ on their shoul- 
ders, as if he were a burthen too heavy to bear ; and there be 
some — woe is me ! — who trample him under their feet : but 
he is the true Christian, who, like Simeon, embraces Christ, 
and takes him to his heart." 

Now it seems to me that it is distinctly the acknowledg- 
ment of Christ by Simeon — that is, Christ received by the 



Gentiles — which is intended to be placed before us in the 
very early pictures of the Presentation, or the Nunc Dimittis, 
as it is always styled in Greek Art. The appearance of an 
attendant, bearing the two turtle doves, shows it to be also 
the so-called Purification of the Virgin. In this antique formal 
Greek version we have the Presentation exactly according to 
the pattern described by Didron. The great gold censer is 

Presentation in the Temple (Bartolommeo) 

here ; the cupola, at top ; Joseph carrying the two young pigeons, 
and Anna behind Simeon. 

In a celebrated composition by Era Bartolommeo [Belvedere, 
Vienna], of which I give a sketch, there is the same disposi- 
tion of the personages, but an additional female figure. This 
is not Anna, the mother of the Virgin (as I have heard it 
said), but probably Mary Salome, who had always attended on 
the Virgin ever since the Nativity at Bethlehem. 

The subject is treated with exquisite simplicity by Francia ; 



Presentation in the Temple (Van der Weyden) 

we have just the same personages as in the rude Greek model, 
but disposed with consummate grace. Still, to represent the 
Child as completely undraped has been considered as a sole- 
cism. He ought to stretch out his hands to his mother, and 
to look as if he understood the portentous words which fore- 
told his destiny. Sometimes the imagination is assisted by the 
choice of the accessories ; thus, Fra Bartolommeo has given us, 


in the background of his group, Moses holding the broken 
table of the old law ; and Francia represents in the same man- 
ner the sacrifice of Abraham ; for thus did Mary bring her 
Son as an offering. In many pictures Simeon raises his eyes 
to heaven in gratitude ; but those painters who wish to express 
the presence of the Divinity in the person of Christ made 
Simeon looking at the Child, and addressing him as " Lord." 

The accompanying sketch is from a beautiful little picture 
[attributed to Van der Weyden] , in which we have the scene 
in the true Flemish style. A noble Gothic church represents 
the temple ; and, besides the sacred personages and Simeon, 
there are numerous assistants, among them a woman carrying 
a basket of doves (Salome, I suppose). She wears a singular 
headdress, composed of a narrow bandage of gold stuff twisted 
round and round her head till it takes the form of a turban ; 
and the whole figure is particularly graceful. [Munich Gal- 

In the picture by Guido a young girl offers two turtle doves, 
and a boy two pigeons. 

The Flight into Egypt 

Ital. La Fuga in Egitto. Fr. La Fuite de la Sainte Famille en 
Egypte. Ger. Die Flucht nach Aegypten. 

The wrath of Herod against the Magi of the East, who had 
escaped from his power, enhanced by his fears of the divine 
and kingly Infant, occasioned the Massacre of the Innocents, 
which led to the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt. Of 
the martyred children, in their character of martyrs, I have 
already spoken, and of their proper place in a scheme of ec- 
clesiastical decoration. There is surely something very pathetic 
in that feeling which exalted these infant victims into objects 
of religious veneration, making them the cherished companions 
in heavenly glory of the Saviour for whose sake they were 
sacrificed on earth. He had said " Suffer little children to 
come unto me ; " and to these were granted the prerogatives 
of pain, as well as the privileges of innocence. If, in the 
day of retribution, they sit at the feet of the Redeemer, surely 
they will appeal against us, then and there — against us who, 
in these days, through our reckless neglect, slay, body and 


soul, legions of innocents — poor little unblcst creatures, " mar- 
tyrs by the pang without the palm " — yet dare to call our- 
selves Christians. 

The Massacre of the Innocents, as an event, belongs properly 

to the life of Christ ; it is not included in a series of the Life 
of the Virgin, perhaps from a feeling that the contrast between 
the most blessed of women and mothers and those who wept 
distracted for their children was too painful, and did not har- 
monize with the general subject. In pictures of the Flight 
into Egypt I have seen it introduced allusively into the back- 
ground ; and in the architectural decoration of churches dedi- 
cated to the Virgin-mother, as Notre Dame de Chartres, it finds 
a place, but not often a conspicuous place ; 1 it is rather indi- 
cated than represented. I should pass over the subject alto- 
gether, best pleased to be spared the theme, but that there are 
some circumstances connected with it which require elucidation, 
because we find them introduced incidentally into pictures of 
the Flight and the Jilposo. 

Thus, it is related that among the children whom Herod 
was bent on destroying was St. John the Baptist ; but his 
mother Elizabeth fled with him to a desert place, and being 
pursued by the murderers, " the rock opened by a miracle, and 
closed upon Elizabeth and her child ; " which means, as we 
may presume, that they took refuge in a cavern, and were con- 
cealed within it until the danger was over. Zacharias, refusing 
to betray his son, was slain " between the temple and the altar." 
(Matt, xxiii. 35.) Both these legends are to be met with in 
the Greek pictures, and in the miniatures of the thirteenth 
and fourteenth centuries. 

From the butchery which made so many mothers childless 
the divine Infant and his mother were miraculously saved ; for 
an angel spoke to Joseph in a dream, saying, " Arise, and take 
the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt." This 
is the second of the four angelic visions which are recorded of 
Joseph. It is not a frequent subject in early Art, but is often 
met with in pictures of the later schools. Joseph is asleep in 
his chair, the angel stands before him, and, with a significant 
gesture, points forward, — M Arise and flee ! " 

There is an exquisite little composition by Titian, called a 

1 It is conspicuous and elegantly treated over the door of the Lorenz Kirche 
at Nuremberg. 


R'qioso, which may possibly represent the preparation for the 
Flight. Here Mary is seated under a tree nursing her Infant, 
while in the background is a sort of rude stable, in which 
Joseph is seen saddling the ass, while the ox is on the outside. 

In a composition by Tiarini we see Joseph holding the In- 
fant, while Mary, leaning one hand on his shoulder, is about 
to mount the ass. 

In a composition. by Poussin, Mary, who has just seated her- 
self on the ass, takes the Child from the arms of Joseph. 
Two angels lead the ass, a third kneels in homage, and two 
others are seen above with a curtain to pitch a tent. 

I must here notice a tradition that both the ox and the ass 
who stood over the manger at Bethlehem accompanied the 
Holy Family into Egypt. In Albert Diirer's print the ox and 
the ass walk side by side. It is also related that the Virgin 
was accompanied by Salome, and Joseph by three of his sons. 
This version of the story is generally rejected by the painters ; 
but in the series by Giotto in the Arena chapel, at Padua, Salome 
and the three youths attend on Mary and Joseph ; and I re- 
member another instance, a little picture by Lorenzo Monaco, 
in which Salome, who had vowed to attend on Christ and his 
mother as long as she lived, is seen following the ass, veiled, 
and supporting her steps with a staff. 

But this is a rare exception. The general treatment con- 
fines the group to Joseph, the mother, and the Child. To 
Joseph was granted, in those hours of distress and danger, the 
high privilege of providing for the safety of the Holy Infant, 
a circumstance much enlarged upon in the old legends ; and, 
to express this more vividly, he is sometimes represented in 
early Greek Art as carrying the Child in his arms, or on his 
shoulder, while Mary follows on the ass. He is so figured on 
the sculptured doors of the cathedral of Beneventum, and in 
the cathedral of Monreale, both executed by Greek artists. 1 
But we are not to suppose that the Holy Family was left de- 
fenceless on the long journey. The angels who had charge 
concerning them were sent to guide them by day, to watch 
over them by night, to pitch their tent before them, and to 
refresh them with celestial fruit and flowers. By the introduc- 
tion of these heavenly ministers the group is beautifully varied. 
1 Eleventh century. Also at Citta di Castello ; same date. 


Joseph, says the Gospel story, " arose by night ; " hence 
there is both meaning and propriety in those pictures which 
represent the Flight as a night-scene, illuminated by the moon 
and stars, though 1 believe this has been done more to exhibit 
the painters mastery over effects of dubious light than as a 
matter of biblical accuracy. Sometimes an angel goes before, 
carrying a torch or lantern, to light them on the way ; some- 
times it is Joseph who carries the lantern. 

In a picture by Nicholas Toussin, Mary walks before, carrying 
the Infant ; Joseph follows, leading the ass ; and an angel 
guides them. 

The journey did not, however, comprise one night only. 
There is, indeed, an antique tradition, that space and time 
were, on this occasion, miraculously shortened to secure a life 
of so much importance ; still, we are allowed to believe that 
the journey extended over many days and nights ; consequently 
it lay within the choice of the artist to exhibit the scene of 
the Flight either by night or by day. 

In many representations of the Flight into Egypt we find 
in the background men sowing or cutting corn. This is in 
allusion to the following legend : — 

When it was discovered that the Holy Family had fled from 
Bethlehem, Herod sent his officers in pursuit of them. And 
it happened that when the Holy Family had travelled some 
distance, they came to a field where a man was sowing wheat. 
And the Virgin said to the husbandman, " If any shall ask 
you whether we have passed this way, ye shall answer, ' Such 
persons passed this way when I was sowing this corn.' " For 
the Holy Virgin was too wise and too good to save her Son 
by instructing the man to tell a falsehood. But, behold, a 
miracle ! For, by the power of the Infant Saviour, in the 
space of a single night the seed sprang up into stalk, blade, 
and ear, fit for the sickle. And next morning the officers of 
Herod came up, and inquired of the husbandman, saying, 
" Have you seen an old man with a woman and a Child trav- 
elling this way ? " And the man, who was reaping his wheat, 
in great wonder and admiration, replied, " Yes." And they 
asked him again, " How long is it since ? " And he answered, 
" When I was sowing this wheat." Then the officers of Herod 
turned back and left off pursuing the Holy Family. 

A very remarkable example of the introduction of this legend 


occurs in a celebrated picture by Hans Memling (Munich Gal- 
lery), known as " Die sieben Freuden Maria." In the back- 
ground, on the left, is the Flight into Egypt : the men cutting 
and reaping corn, and the officers of Herod in pursuit of the 
Holy Family. By those unacquainted with the old legend, 
the introduction of the cornfield and reapers is supposed to be 
merely a decorative landscape, without any peculiar significance. 

In a very beautiful fresco by Pinturicchio (Rome, St. Ono- 
frio x ), the Holy Family are taking their departure from Beth- 
lehem. The city, with the Massacre of the Innocents, is seen 
in the background. In the middle distance, the husbandman 
cutting corn ; and nearer, the palm-tree bending down. 

It is supposed by commentators that Joseph travelled from 
Bethlehem across the hilly country of Judea, taking the road 
to Joppa, and then pursuing the way along the coast. Nothing 
is said in the gospel of the events of this long and perilous 
journey of at least four hundred miles, which, in the natural 
order of things, must have occupied five or six weeks ; and the 
legendary traditions are very few. Such as they are, however, 
the painters have not failed to take advantage of them. 

We are told that on descending from the mountains they 
came down upon a beautiful plain enamelled with flowers, 
watered by murmuring streams, and shaded by fruit-trees. In 
such a lovely landscape have the painters delighted to place 
some of the scenes of the Flight into Egypt. On another 
occasion they entered a thick forest, a wilderness of trees, in 
which they must have lost their way had they not been guided 
by an angel. Here we encounter a legend which has hitherto 
escaped, because, indeed, it defied the art of the painter. As 
the Holy Family entered this forest, all the trees bowed them- 
selves down in reverence to the Infant God ; only the aspen, 
in her exceeding pride and arrogance, refused to acknowledge 
him, and stood upright. Then the Infant Christ pronounced 
a curse against her, as he afterwards cursed the barren fig-tree ; 
and at the sound of his words, the aspen began to tremble 

1 [Authorities are divided in their opinion of the authorship of the frescoes of 
S. Onofrio, some attributing them all to Peruzzi. For full discussion of the sub- 
ject see Crowe and Cavalcaselle's History of Painting in Italy, vol. iii. p. 385, 
and Frizzoni, Arte Italiana del liinascimento, p. 193.] 



through all her Leaves, and has not ceased to tremble even to 
this day. 

AVe know from Josephus the historian, that about this time 
Palestine was infested by bands of robbers. There is an an- 
cient tradition, that when the Holy Family, travelling through 
hidden paths and solitary defiles, had passed Jerusalem, and 
were descending into the plains of Syria, they encountered cer- 
tain thieves who fell upon them ; and one of them would have 
maltreated and plundered them ; but his comrade interfered, 
and said, " Sutler them, I beseech thee, to go in peace, and I 

Flight into Egypt (Rembrandt) 

"will give thee forty groats, and likewise my girdle ; " which 
offer being accepted, the merciful robber led the Holy Travel- 
lers to his stronghold on the rock, and gave them lodging for 
the night (Gospel of Infancy, ch. viii.). And Mary said to 
him, " The Lord God will receive thee to his right hand, and 
grant the pardon of thy sins ! " And it was so : for in after 
times these two thieves were crucified with Christ, one on the 
right hand, and one on the left ; and the merciful thief went 
with the Saviour into Paradise. 

The scene of this encounter with the robbers, near Ramla, 
is still pointed out to travellers, and still in evil repute as the 


haunt of banditti. The crusaders visited the spot as a place 
of pilgrimage ; and the Abbe' Orsini considers the first part of 
the story as authenticated ; but the legend concerning the good 
thief he admits to be doubtful. (Vie de la Ste. Vierge.) 

As an artistic subject, this scene has been seldom treated. 
I have seen two pictures which represent it. One is a fresco 
by Giovanni di San Giovanni, cut from the wall of some sup- 
pressed convent. The other is a composition by Zuccaro. 

One of the most popular legends concerning the Flight into 
Egypt is that of the palm or date tree, which at the command 
of Jesus bowed down its branches to shade and refresh his 
mother ; hence, in the scene of the Flight, a palm-tree became 
a usual accessory. In a picture by Antonello Mellone [Cre- 
mona], the Child stretches out his little hand and lays hold of 
the branch : sometimes the branch is bent down by angel hands. 
Sozomenes relates that when the Holy Family reached the 
term of their journey, and approached the city of Heliopolis 
in Egypt, a tree which grew before the gates of the city, and 
was regarded with great veneration as the seat of a god, bowed 
down its branches at the approach of the Infant Christ. Like- 
wise it is related (not in legends merely, but by grave religious 
authorities) that all the idols of the Egyptians fell with their 
faces to the earth. I have seen pictures of the Flight into 
Egypt in which broken idols lie by the wayside. 

In the course of the journey the Holy Travellers had to 
cross rivers and lakes, hence the later painters, to vary the 
subject, represented them as embarking in a boat, sometimes 
steered by an angel. The first, as I have reason to believe, 
who ventured on this innovation, was Annibal Caracci. In 
a picture by Giordano, an angel, with one knee bent, assists 
Mary to enter the boat. In a pretty little picture by Teniers, 
the Holy Family and the ass are seen in a boat crossing a 
ferry by moonlight ; sometimes they are crossing a bridge. 

I must notice here a little picture by Adrian van der WerfF, 
in which the Virgin, carrying her Child, holds by the hand 
the old decrepit Joseph, who is helping her, or rather is helped 
by her, to pass a torrent on some stepping-stones. This is 
quite contrary to the feeling of the old authorities, which rep- 
resent Joseph as the vigilant and capable guardian of the 
Mother and her Child ; but it appears to have here a rather 


particular and touching significance : it was painted by Van der 
Werff for his daughter in his old ago, and intended to express 
her filial duty and his paternal care. 

The most beautiful Flight into Egypt I have ever seen is 
a composition by Gaudenzio Ferarri. The Virgin is seated 
and sustained on the ass with a quite peculiar elegance. The 
Infant, standing on her knee, Beems to point out the way ; an 
angel leads the ass, and Joseph follows with the staff and 
wallet. In the background the palm-tree inclines its branches. 
(At Varallo, in the church of the Minorites.) 

Claude has introduced the Flight of the Holy Family as a 
landscape group into nine different pictures. 

The Repose of the Holy Family 

Itul. 11 Riposo. Fr. Le Repos de la Sainte Famille. Ger. Die 
Ruhe in Egypten. 

The subject generally styled a " Riposo " is one of the most 
graceful and most attractive in the whole range of Christian 
Art. It is not, however, an ancient subject, for I cannot 
recall an instance earlier than the sixteenth century ; it had in 
its accessories that romantic and pastoral character which recom- 
mended it to the Venetians and to the landscape painters of the 
seventeenth century, and among these we must look for the 
most successful and beautiful examples. 

I must begin by observing that it is a subject not only easily 
mistaken by those who have studied pictures, but perpetually 
misconceived and misrepresented by the painters themselves. 
Some pictures, which erroneously bear this title, were never 
intended to do so. Others intended to represent the scene 
are disfigured and perplexed by mistakes arising either from 
the ignorance or the carelessness of the artist. 

AVe must bear in mind that the Riposo, properly so called, 
is not merely the Holy Family seated in a landscape ; it is an 
episode of the Flight into Egypt, and is either the rest on the 
journey, or at the close of the journey ; quite different scenes, 
though all go by the same name. It is not an ideal religious 
group, but a reality, a possible and actual scene ; and it is clear 
that the painter, if he thought at all, and did not merely set 
himself to fabricate a pretty composition, was restricted within 
tin; limits of the actual and possible, at least, according to the 


histories and traditions of the time. Some of the accessories 
introduced would stamp the intention at once ; as the date- 
tree, and Joseph gathering dates ; the ass feeding in the dis- 
tance ; the wallet and pilgrim's staff laid beside Joseph ; the 
fallen idols ; the Virgin scooping water from a fountain ; for 
all these are incidents which properly belong to the Riposo. 

It is nowhere recorded, either in Scripture or in the legend- 
ary stories, that Mary and Joseph in their flight were accom- 
panied by Elizabeth and the little St. John ; therefore, where 
either of these 'is introduced, the subject is not properly a 
Riposo, whatever the intention of the painter may have been: 
the personages ought to be restricted to the Virgin, her Infant, 
and St. Joseph, with attendant angels. An old woman is 
sometimes introduced, the same who is traditionally supposed 
to have accompanied them in their flight. If this old woman 
be manifestly St. Anna or St. Elizabeth, then it is not a Hiposo, 
but merely a Holy Family. 

It is related that the Holy Family finally rested, after their 
long journey, in the village of Matarea, beyond the city of 
Hermopolis (or Heliopolis), and took up their residence in a 
grove of sycamores, a circumstance which gave the sycamore- 
tree a sort of religious interest in early Christian times. The 
crusaders imported it into Europe ; and poor Mary Stuart may 
have had this idea, or this feeling, when she brought from 
France, and planted in her garden, the first sycamores which 
grew in Scotland. 

Near to this village of Matarea a fountain miraculously 
sprang up for the refreshment of the Holy Family. It still 
exists, as we are informed by travellers, about four miles north- 
east of Cairo, and is still styled by the Arabs " The Fountain 
of Mary." This fountain is frequently represented, as in the 
well-known Riposo by Correggio, where the Virgin is dipping 
a bowl into the gushing stream, hence called the " Madonna 
della Scodella" (Parma) ; in another by Baroccio, and an- 
other by Domenichino, in the Louvre. 

In this fountain, says another legend, Mary washed the linen 
of the Child. There are several pictures which represent the 
Virgin washing linen in a fountain ; for example, one by Lucio 
Massari, 1 where, in a charming landscape, the little Christ takes 

1 [Diligent search and inquiiy have been made at the Uffizi Gallery in regard 
to this picture, but in vain.] 



Repose in Egypt (Lucas van Leyden) 

the linen out of the basket, and Joseph hangs it on a line to 
dry. (Ufhzi, Florence.) 

The ministry of the angels is here not only allowable, but 
beautifully appropriate ; and never has it been more felicitously 
and more gracefully expressed than in a little composition by 
Lucas Cranach, where the Virgin and her Child repose under 
a tree, while the angels dance in a circle round them. The 
cause of the flight, the Massacre of the Innocents, is figura- 
tively expressed by two winged boys, who, seated on a bough 
of the tree, are seen robbing a nest, and wringing the necks 
of the nestlings, while the parent birds scream and nutter over 
their heads : in point of taste, this significant allegory had 
been better omitted ; it spoils the harmony of composition. 


There is another similar group, quite as graceful, by David 
Hopfer. Vandyck seems to have had both in his memory 
when he designed the very beautiful Riposo so often copied 
and engraved ; here the Virgin is seated under a tree, in an 
open landscape, and holds her divine Child ; Joseph, behind, 
seems asleep ; in front of the Virgin, eight lovely angels dance 
in a round, while others, seated in the sky, make heavenly 
music. [Pitti, Florence, replica in collection of Lord Ash- 

In another singular and charming Riposo by Lucas Cranach, 
the Virgin and Child are seated under a tree ; to the left of 
the group is a fountain, where a number of little angels appear 
to be washing linen ; to the right, Joseph approaches leading 
the ass, and in the act of reverently removing his cap. 

There is a Riposo by Albert Diirer which I cannot pass over. 
[In the series, "Life of the Virgin."] It is touched with all 
that homely domestic feeling, and at the same time all that 
fertility of fancy, which are so characteristic of that extraor- 
dinary man. We are told that when Joseph took up his resi- 
dence at Matarea in Egypt, he provided for his wife and Child 
by exercising his trade as a carpenter. In this composition he 
appears in the foreground dressed as an artisan with an apron 
on, and with an axe in his hand is shaping a plank of wood. 
Mary sits on one side spinning with her distaff, and watching 
her Infant slumbering in its cradle. Around this domestic 
group we have a crowd of ministering angels ; some of these 
little winged spirits are assisting Joseph, sweeping up the chips 
and gathering them into baskets ; others are merely " sporting 
at their own sweet will." Several more dignified-looking an- 
gels, having the air of guardian spirits, stand or kneel round 
the cradle, bending over it with folded hands. 

In a Riposo by Titian, the Infant lies on a pillow on the 
ground, and the Virgin is kneeling before him, while Joseph 
leans on his pilgrim's staff, to which is suspended a wallet. 
In another, two angels, kneeling, offer fruits in a basket ; in 
the distance, a little angel waters the ass at a stream. All 
these are engraved. 

The angels, according to the legend, not only ministered to 
the Holy Family, but pitched a tent nightly in which they 
were sheltered. Poussin, in an exquisite picture, has repre- 
sented the Virgin and Child reposing under a curtain sus- 


ponded from the branches of a tree and partly sustained by 
angels, while others, kneeling, oiler fruit. (Grosvenor Gal- 


Roussin is the only painter who has attempted to express 
the locality. In one of his pictures, the Holy Family reposes 
on the steps of an Egyptian temple ; a sphinx and a pyramid 
are visible in the background. In another Riposo by the same 
master, an Ethiopian boy presents fruits to the Infant Christ. 
Joseph is frequently asleep [as in Garofalo's Riposo at Ferrara], 
which is hardly consonant with the spirit of the older legends. 
It is, however, a beautiful idea to make the Child and Joseph 
both reposing, while the Virgin-mother, with eyes upraised to 
heaven, wakes and watches, as in a picture by Mola [National 
Gallery] ; but a yet more beautiful idea to represent the Vir- 
gin and Joseph sunk in sleep, while the divine Infant lying in 
his mother's arms wakes and watches for both, with his little 
hands joined in prayer, and his eyes fixed on the hovering 
angels or the opening skies above. 

In a Riposo by Rembrandt, the Holy Family rest by night, 
and are illuminated only by a lantern suspended on the bough 
of a tree, the whole group having much the air of a gypsy en- 
campment. But one of Rembrandt's imitators has in his own 
way improved on this fancy : the Virgin sleeps on a bank with 
the Child on her bosom ; Joseph, who looks extremely like an 
old tinker, is doubling his fist at the ass, which has opened its 
mouth to bray. 

Before quitting the subject of the Riposo, I must mention 
a very pretty and poetical legend which I have met with in 
one picture only : a description of it may, however, lead to the 
recognition of others. 

There [was] in the collection of Lord Shrewsbury, at Alton 
Towers, a Riposo attributed to Giorgione, remarkable equally 
for the beauty and the singularity of the treatment. The 
Holy Family are seated in the midst of a wild but rich land- 
scape, quite in the Venetian style ; Joseph is asleep ; the two 
children are playing with a lamb. The Virgin, seated, holds 
a book, and turns round, with an expression of surprise and 
alarm, to a female figure who stands on the right. This wo- 
man has a dark physiognomy, ample flowing drapery of red 
and white, a white turban twisted round her head, and stretches 


out her hand with the air of a sibyl. The explanation of this 
striking group I found in an old ballad-legend. Every one 
who has studied the moral as well as the technical character of 
the various schools of Art must have remarked how often the 
Venetians (and Giorgione more especially) painted groups from 
the popular fictions and ballads of the time ; and it has often 
been regretted that many of these pictures are become unin- 
telligible to us from our having lost the key to them, in losing 
all trace of the fugitive poems or tales which suggested them. 

The religious ballad I allude to must have been popular in 
the sixteenth century ; it exists in the Provencal dialect, in 
German, and in Italian ; and, like the wild ballad of St. John 
Chrysostom, it probably came in some form or other from the 
East. The theme is, in all these versions, substantially the 
same. The Virgin, on her arrival in Egypt, is encountered by 
a gypsy (Zingara or Zingarella) who crosses the Child's palm 
after the gypsy manner, and foretells all the wonderful and 
terrible things which, as the Kedeeemer of mankind, he was 
destined to perform and endure on earth. 

An Italian version which lies before me is entitled, Canzo- 
netta nuova, sopra la Madonna, quando si partb in Egitto col 
Bambino Gesu e San Giuseppe, " A new Ballad of our Lady, 
when she fled into Egypt with the Child Jesus and St. 

It begins with a conversation between the Virgin, who has 
just arrived from her long journey, and the gypsy woman, who 
thus salutes her : — 

Zingarella. Gypsy. 

Dio ti salvi, bella Signora, God save thee, fair lady, and give thee 

E ti dia buona ventura. good luck ! Welcome, good old man,with 

Ben venuto, vecchiarello, this thy fair child! 
Con questo bambino bello ! 

Madonna. Mary. 

Ben trovata, sorella mia, "Well met, sister mine! God give thee 

La sua grazia Dio ti dia. grace, and of his infinite mercy forgive thee 

Ti perdoni i tuoi peccati thy sins! 

L' infinitii sua bontade. 

Zingarella. Gypsy. 

Siete stanchi e meschini, Ye are tired and drooping, poor pilgrims, 

Credo, poveri pellegrini as I think, seeking a night's lodging. Lady, 

Che cercate d' alloggiare. wilt thou choose to alight? 
Vuoi, Signora, scavalcare? 


Madonna. Maky. 

Voi clie state, sorella mia, Bister mine ! full of courtesy, God of his 

Tutta plena di cortesia, infinite goodneei reward thee for thy charity. 

Dio vi rcntla la caritii We are come from Nazareth, and we are 

Per P infinite, sue bontk. without a place to lay our heads, arrived in a 

Noi veniam da Nazaretto, strange land, all tired and weary with the 

Siamo sense eleon ricetto, way! 
Arrivati all' strania 
Stanchi e lassi dalla via! 

The Zingarella then offers them a resting-place, and straw and 
fodder for the ass, which being accepted, she asks leave to tell 
their fortune, hut begins by recounting, in about thirty stanzas, 
all the past history of the Virgin pilgrim; she then asks to see 
the Child — 

Ora tu, Signora mia, And now, O Lady mine, that art full of 

Che sei piena di cortesia, courtesy, grant me to look upon thy Son, the 

Mostramelo per favore Redeemer ! 
Lo tuo Figlio Redentore! 

The Virgin takes him from the arms of Joseph — 

Datemi, o caro sposo, Give me, dear husband, my lovely boy, 

Lo mio Figlio grazioso! that this poor gypsy, who is a prophetess, 

Quando il vide sta meschina may look upon him. 
Zingarella, che indovina! 

The gypsy responds with becoming admiration and humility, 
praises the beauty of the Child, and then proceeds to examine 
his palm ; which having done, she breaks forth into a prophecy 
of all the awful future, tells how he would be baptized, and 
tempted, scourged, and finally hung upon a cross — 

Questo Figlio accarezzato 
Tu lo vedrai ammazzato 
Sopra d' una dura croce, 
Figlio bello ! Figlio dolce ! 

but consoles the disconsolate Mother, doomed to honor for the 
sake of us sinners — 

Sei arrivata a tanti onori 
Per noi altri Peccatori ! 

and ends by begging an alms — 

Non ti vo' piii infastidire, 
Bella Signora ; so ch' hai a fare. 
Dona la limosinella 
A 'sta povera Zingarella. 



Return from Egypt (Vanni) 

But not alms of gold or of silver, but the gift of true repent- 
ance and eternal life. 

Vo' una vera contrizione 
Per la tua intercezione, 
Accio st' alma dopo morte 
Tragga alle celesti porte ! 

And so the story ends. 

There can be no doubt, I think, that we have here the 
original theme of Giorgione's picture, and perhaps of others. 

In the Provencal ballad there are three gypsies, men, not 
women, introduced, who tell the fortune of the Virgin and 


Joseph, as well as that of the Child, and end by begging alms 
"to wet their thirsty throats." Of this version there is a 
very spirited and characteristic translation by Mr. Kenyon, 
under the title of "A Gypsy Carol." 1 

The Return from Egypt 

According to some authorities, the Holy Family sojourned 
in Egypt during a period of seven years, but others assert that 
they returned to Judca at the end of two years. 

In general, the painters have expressed the Return from 
Egypt by exhibiting Jesus as no longer an infant sustained in 
his mother's arms, but as a boy walking at her side. In a 
picture by Francesco Vanni [church of S. Quirico, Siena], he 
is a boy about two or three years old, and carries a little basket 
full of carpenter's tools. The occasion of the Flight and 
Return is indicated by three or four of the martyred Innocents, 
who are lying on the ground. In a picture by Domenico Feti 
[Belvedere, Vienna], two of the Innocents are lying dead on 
the roadside. In a very graceful, animated picture by Rubens, 
Mary and Joseph lead the young Christ between them, and 
the Virgin wears a large straw hat. [Formerly at Blenheim ; 
sold in 1886 to Murray.] 

1 A Day at Tivoli, with other Verses, by John Kenyon, p. 149. 



The Holy Family 

When the Holy Family, under divine protection, had re- 
turned safely from their sojourn in Egypt, they were about 
to repair to Bethlehem ; but Joseph hearing that Archelaus 
" did reign in Judea in the room of his father Herod, he was 
afraid to go thither : and being warned of God in a dream, he 
turned aside into Galilee," and came to the city of Nazareth, 
which was the native place and home of the Virgin Mary. 
Here J oseph dwelt, following in peace his trade of a carpenter, 
and bringing up his reputed Son to the same craft : and here 
Mary nurtured her divine Child ; " and he grew and waxed 
strong in spirit, and the grace of God was upon him." No 
other event is recorded until Jesus had reached his twelfth 

This, then, is the proper place to introduce some notice of 
those representations of the domestic life of the Virgin and 
the infancy of the Saviour, which, in all their endless variety, 
pass under the general title of The Holy Family — the 
beautiful title of a beautiful subject, addressed in the loveliest 
and most familiar form at once to the piety and the affections 
of the beholder. 

These groups, so numerous, and of such perpetual recur- 
rence that they alone form a large proportion of the contents 
of picture galleries and the ornaments of churches, are, after 
all, a modern innovation in sacred Art. What may be called 
the domestic treatment of the history of the Virgin cannot be 
traced farther back than the middle of the fifteenth century. 
It is, indeed, common to class all those pictures as Holy 
Families which include any of the relatives of Christ grouped 
with the Mother and her Child ; but I must here recapitulate 
and insist upon the distinction to be drawn between the 
domestic and the devotional treatment of the subject; a dis- 
tinction I have been careful to keep in view throughout the 
whole range of sacred Art, and which, in this particular sub- 


ject, depends on a difference in sentiment and intention, more 
easily felt than set down in words. 

It is, I must repeat, a devotional group where the sacred 
personages are placed in direct relation to the worshippers, and 
where their supernatural character is paramount to every 
other. It is a domestic or an historical group, a Holy Fam- 
ily properly so called, when the personages are placed in direct 
relation to each other by some link of action or sentiment 
which expresses the family connection between them, or by some 
action which has a dramatic rather than a religious significance. 
The Italians draw this distinction in the title " Sacra Conver- 
sazione," given to the first-named subject, and that of u Sacra 
Famiglia" given to the last. For instance, if the Virgin, 
watching her sleeping Child, puts her finger on her lip to 
silence the little St. John, there is here no relation between 
the spectator and the persons represented, except that of un- 
bidden sympathy : it is a family group, a domestic scene. But 
if St. John, looking out of the picture, points to the Infant, 
" Behold the Lamb of God ! " then the whole representation 
changes its significance ; St. John assumes the character of 
precursor, and we, the spectators, are directly addressed and- 
called upon to acknowledge the " Son of God, the Saviour of 

If St. Joseph, kneeling, presents flowers to the Infant Christ, 
while Mary looks on tenderly (as in a group by Raphael), it 
is an act of homage which expresses the mutual relation of the 
three personages ; it is a Holy Family : whereas, in the picture 
by Murillo, in our National Gallery, where Joseph and Mary 
present the young Redeemer to the homage of the spectator, 
while the form of the Padre Eterno, and the Holy Spirit, 
with attendant angels, are floating above, we have a devotional 
group, a " Sacra Conversazione : " it is, in fact, a material 
representation of the Trinity ; and the introduction of Joseph 
into such immediate propinquity with the personages acknow- 
ledged as divine is one of the characteristics of the later schools 
of theological Art. It could not possibly have occurred before 
the end of the sixteenth or the beginning of the seventeenth 

The introduction of persons who could not have been con- 
temporary, as St. Francis or St. Catherine, renders the group 
ideal and devotional. On the other hand, as I have already 


observed, the introduction of attendant angels does not place 
the subject out of the domain of the actual ; for the painters 
literally rendered what in the Scripture text is distinctly set 
down and literally interpreted, "He shall give his angels 
charge concerning thee." Wherever lived and moved the 
Infant Godhead, angels were always supposed to be present ; 
therefore it lay within the province of an art addressed espe- 
cially to our senses to place them bodily before us, and to 
give to these heavenly attendants a visible shape and bearing 
worthy of their blessed ministry. 

The devotional groups, of which I have already treated 
most fully, even while placed by the accessories quite beyond 
the range of actual life, have been too often vulgarized and 
formalized by a trivial or merely conventional treatment. 
In these really domestic scenes, where the painter sought un- 
reproved his models in simple nature, and trusted for his effect 
to what was holiest and most immutable in our common hu- 
manity, he must have been a bungler indeed if he did not 
succeed in touching some responsive chord of sympathy in the 
bosom of the observer. This is, perhaps, the secret of the 
universal, and, in general, deserved, popularity of these Holy 

Two Figures 

The simplest form of the family group is confined to two 
figures, and expresses merely the relation between the Mother 
and the Child. The motif is precisely the same as in the 
formal, goddess-like, enthroned Madonnas of the antique time ; 
but here quite otherwise worked out, and appealing to other 
sympathies. In the first instance, the intention was to assert 
the contested pretensions of the human mother to divine hon- 
ors ; here it was rather to assert the humanity of her divine 
Son ; and we have before us, in the simplest form, the first 
and holiest of all the social relations. 

The primal instinct, as the first duty of the mother, is the 
nourishment of the life she has given. A very common sub- 
ject, therefore, is Mary in the act of feeding her Child from her 
bosom. I have already observed that, when first adopted, this 
was a theological theme ; an answer, in form, to the challenge 
of the Nestorians, " Shall we call him God who hath sucked 
his mother's breast ? " Then, and for at least five hundred 



years afterwards, the simple maternal action involved a reli- 
gious dogma, and was the visible exponent of a controverted 
article of faith. All such controversy had long ceased, and 
certainly there was no thought of insisting on a point of theol- 
ogy in the minds of those secular painters of the sixteenth 
and seventeenth centuries who have set forth the representa- 
tion with such an affectionate and delicate grace; nor yet in 
the minds of those who converted the lovely group into a 

Madonna of the Green Cushion (Solario) 

moral lesson. For example, we find in the works of Jeremy 
Taylor (one of the lights of our Protestant Church) a long 
homily " Of nursing children, in imitation of the blessed Vir- 
gin-mother ; " and prints and pictures of the Virgin thus occu- 
pied often bear significant titles and inscriptions of the same 
import ; such as " Le premier devoir d'une mere," etc. 

I do not find this motif in any known picture by Raphael ; 
but in one of his designs, engraved by Marc Antonio, it is 
represented with characteristic grace and delicacy. 


Goethe describes with delight a picture by Correggio, in 
which the attention of the Child seems divided between the 
bosom of his Mother and some fruit offered by an angel. He 
calls this subject " The Weaning of the Infant Christ." Cor- 
reggio, if not the very first, is certainly among the first of the 
Italians who treated this motif in the simple domestic style. 
Others of the Lombard school followed him ; and I know not 
a more exquisite example than the maternal group by Solario, 
now in the Louvre, styled "La Vierge a l'Oreiller Verd," from 
the color of the pillow on which the Child is lying. The sub- 
ject is frequent in the contemporary German and Flemish 
schools of the* sixteenth century. In the next century there 
are charming examples by the Bologna painters, and the Natu- 
ralisti, Spanish, Italian, and Flemish. I would particularly 
point to one by Agostino Caracci (Parma), and to another by 
Vandyck (that engraved by Bartolozzi), as examples of ele- 
gance ; while in the numerous specimens by Rubens we have 
merely his own wife and son, painted with all that coarse 
vigorous life, and homely affectionate expression, which his 
own strong domestic feelings could lend them. 

We have in other pictures the relation between the Mother 
and Child expressed and varied in a thousand ways ; as where 
she contemplates him fondly — kisses him, pressing his cheeks 
to hers ; or they sport with a rose, or an apple, or a bird ; or 
he presents it to his mother ; these originally mystical emblems 
being converted into playthings. In [the Madonna della 
Campanello by Bartolommeo Schidone, in the Pitti, Florence] 
she is amusing him by tinkling a bell: the bell, which has 
a religious significance, is here a plaything. One or more 
attendant angels may vary the group, without taking it out of 
the sphere of reality. In a quaint but charming picture in 
the Wallerstein collection [now dispersed], an angel is sporting 
with the Child at his mother's feet — is literally his playfel- 
low ; and in a picture by Cambiaso, Mary, assisted by an angel, 
is teaching her Child to walk. 

To represent, in the great enthroned Madonnas, the Infant 
Saviour of the world asleep, has always appeared to me a sole- 
cism : whereas in the domestic subject, the Infant slumbering 
on his mother's knee, or cradled in her arms, or on her bosom, 
or rocked by angels, is a most charming subject. Sometimes 


angels are seen preparing his bed, or looking on while he 

sleeps, with folded hands and overshadowing wings. Some- 
times Mary hangs over his pillow, "pondering in her heart" 

the wondrous destinies of her Child. A poetess of our own 
time [Elizabeth Barrett Browning] has given us an interpreta- 
tion worthy of the most beautiful of these representations, in 
the address of the Virgin .Mary to the Child Jesus — "Sleep, 
sleep, mine Holy One ! " 

And art thou come fotf saving, baby-browed 

And speechless Being? art thou come for saving? 

The palm that grows beside our door is bowed 

By (readings of the low wind from the south, 

A restless shadow through the chamber waving. 

Upon its bough a bird sings in the sun. 

But thou, with that close slumber on thy mouth, 

Dost seem of wind and sun already weary. 

Art come for saving, my weary One V 

Perchance this sleep that shutteth out the dreary 
Earth-sounds and motions, opens on thy soul 

High dreams on tire with God; 
High songs that make the pathways where they roll 
More bright than stars do theirs; and visions new 
Of thine eternal nature's old abode. 

Suffer this mother's kiss, 

Best thing that earthly is, 
To glide the music and the glory through, 
Nor narrow in thy dream the broad upliftings 

Of any seraph wing. 
Thus, noiseless, thus ! — Sleep, sleep, my dreaming One. 

Such high imaginings might be suggested by the group of 
Michael Angelo — his famous " Silenzio : " but very different 
certainly are the thoughts and associations conveyed by some 
of the very lovely, but at the same time familiar and common- 
place, groups of peasant mothers and sleeping babies — the 
countless productions of the later schools — even while the 
simplicity and truth of the natural sentiment go straight to 
the heart. 

I remember reading a little Italian hymn composed for a 
choir of nuns, and addressed to the sleeping Christ, in which 
he is prayed to awake ; or, if lie will not, they threaten to pull 
him by his golden curls until they rouse him to listen! 

T have seen a graceful print which represents Jesus as a 
child standing at his mother's knee, while she feeds him from 


a plate or cup held by an angel ; underneath is the text, 
" Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse 
the evil and choose the good ; " and in a print of the same 
period the mother suspends her needle -work to contemplate 
the Child, who, standing at her side, looks down compassion- 
ately on two little birds, which nutter their wings and open 
their beaks expectingly ; underneath is the text, " Are not two 
sparrows sold for a farthing ? " 

Mary employed in needlework, while her cradled Infant 
slumbers at her side, is a beautiful subject. Eosini, in his 
" Storia della Pittura," publishes a group representing the 
Virgin mending or making a little coat, while Jesus, seated at 
her feet without his coat, is playing with a bird ; two angels 
are hovering above. It appears to me that there is here some 
uncertainty as regards both the subject and the master. In 
the time of Giottino, to whom Eosini attributes the picture, 
the domestic treatment of the Madonna and Child was unknown. 
If it be really by him, I should suppose it to represent Han- 
nah and her son Samuel. 

All these, and other varieties of action and sentiment con- 
necting the Mother and her Child, are frequently accompanied 
by accessory figures, forming, in their combination, what is 
properly a Holy Family. The personages introduced, singly 
or together, are the young St. John, Joseph, Anna, Joachim, 
Elizabeth, and Zacharias. 

Three Figures 

The group of three figures most commonly met with is that 
of the Mother and Child with St. John. One of the earliest 
examples of the domestic treatment of this group is a quaint 
picture by Botticelli, in which Mary, bending down, holds 
forth the Child to be caressed by St. John — very dry in 
color, and faulty in drawing, but beautiful for the sentiment. 
(Florence, Pitti.) Perhaps the most perfect example which 
could be cited from the whole range of Art is Eaphael's " Ma- 
donna del Cardellino " in the Uffizi, Florence ; another is his 
" Belle Jardiniere " of the Louvre ; another, in which the 
figures are half length, is his " Madonna del Giglio " [better 
known as the Aldobrandini, or Garvagli Madonna, in the Na- 



Garvagh Madonna (Raphael) 

tional Gallery, London]. As I have already observed, where 
the Infant Christ takes the cross from St. John, or presents it 
to him, or where St. John points to him as the Redeemer, or 
is represented, not as a child, but as a youth or a man, the 
composition assumes a devotional significance. 

The subject of the Sleeping Christ is beautifully varied by 
the introduction of St. John ; as where Mary lifts the veil 
and shows her Child to the little St. John, kneeling with 
folded hands : Raphael's well-known " Yierge a la Diademe " 
in the Louvre is an instance replete with grace and expression. 
Sometimes Mary, putting her finger to her lip, exhorts St. 
John to silence, as in a famous and oft repeated subject by An- 
nibal Caracci, of which there is a lovely example at Windsor. 
Such a group is called in Italian, il Silenzlo, and in French le 
Sommeil de Jesus. 

Another group of three figures consists of the Mother, 
the Child, and St. Joseph as foster father. This group, so 


commonly met with in the later schools of Art, dates from the 
end of the fifteenth century. Gerson, an ecclesiastic distin- 
guished at the Council of Constance for his learning and elo- 
quence, had written a poem of three thousand lines in praise 
of St. Joseph, setting him up as the Christian example of every 
virtue ; and this poem, after the invention of printing, was 
published and widely disseminated. Sixtus IV. instituted a 
festival in honor of the " Husband of the Virgin," which, as a 
novelty and harmonizing with the tone of popular feeling, was 
everywhere acceptable. As a natural consequence, the churches 
and chapels were filled with pictures which represented the 
Mother and her Child, with Joseph standing or seated by, in 
an attitude of religious contemplation or affectionate sympathy ; 
sometimes leaning on his stick, or with his tools lying beside 
him ; and always, in the old pictures, habited in his appropri- 
ate colors, the saffron-colored robe over the gray or green tunic. 
In the Madonna and Child, as a strictly devotional subject, 
the introduction of Joseph rather complicates the idea ; but in 
the domestic Holy Family his presence is natural and neces- 
sary. It is seldom that he is associated with the action, where 
there is one ; but of this also there are some beautiful ex- 

1. In a well-known composition by Raphael, the mother 
withdraws the covering from the Child, who seems to have that 
moment awaked, and, stretching out his little arms, smiles in 
her face : Joseph looks on tenderly and thoughtfully. 1 

2. In another group by Raphael, in the Bridge water Gal- 
lery, London, the Infant is seated on the mother's knee, and 
sustained by part of her veil ; Joseph, kneeling, offers flowers 
to his divine foster Son, who eagerly stretches out his little 
hand to take them. 

In many pictures Joseph is seen presenting cherries ; as 
in the celebrated " Vierge aux Cerises " of Annibal Caracci. 
(Louvre.) The allusion is to a quaint old legend, often in- 
troduced in the religious ballads and dramatic mysteries of the 
time. It is related, that before the birth of our Saviour the 
Virgin Mary wished to taste of certain cherries which hung 
upon a tree high above her head ; she requested Joseph to 

1 [The picture here described is the Madonna di Loretto, known only through 
copies, the original having disappeared in the last century.] 



procure thorn for her, and he reaching to pluck them, the branch 
bowed down to his hand. 

3. There 18 a lovely pastoral composition by Titian, in which 
Mary is seated under some trees, with Joseph leaning on his 
stall', and the Infant Christ standing between them; the little 
St. John approaches with his lap full of cherries ; and in the 
background a woman is seen gathering cherries. This picture 
is called a Riposo; but the presence of St. John and the 

Loretto Madonna (Raphael) 

cherry-tree instead of the date-tree point out a different signif- 
ication. [IJelvedere, Vienna.] Angels presenting cherries on 
a plate is also a frequent circumstance, derived from the same 

4. In a charming picture by Garofalo, Joseph is caressing 
the Child, while Mary — a rather full figure, calm, matronly, 
and dignified, as is usual with Garofalo — sits by, holding a 
book in her hand, from which she has just raised her eyes. 
(Windsor Gallery.) 


5. In a family group by Murillo, Joseph, standing, holds 
the Infant pressed to his bosom ; while Mary, seated near a 
cradle, holds out her arms to take it from him : a carpenter's 
bench is seen behind. [St. Petersburg.] 

6. A celebrated picture by Kembrandt, known as " Le Me- 
nage du Menuisier," exhibits a rustic interior : the Virgin is 
seated with the volume of the Scriptures open on her knees — 
she turns, and, lifting the coverlid of the cradle, contemplates 
the Infant asleep : in the background Joseph is seen at his 
work ; while angels hover above, keeping watch over the Holy 
Family. Exquisite for the homely natural sentiment, and the 
depth of the color and chiaroscuro. (St. Petersburg.) 

7. Many who read these pages will remember the pretty 
little picture, by Annibal Caracci, known as "Le Raboteur," 
[once] in the collection of the Earl of Suffolk, at Charlton. 
It represents Joseph planing a board, while Jesus, a lovely 
boy about six or seven years old, stands by, watching the pro- 
gress of his work. Mary is seated on one side, plying her 
needle. The great fault of this picture is the subordinate and 
utterly commonplace character given to the Virgin-mother: 
otherwise, it is a very suggestive and dramatic subject, and one 
which might be usefully engraved in a cheap form for distri- 

[Modern examples : — 

8. Holy Family by Franz Defregger in village church, Dol- 

The Madonna is seated on a pedestal holding the Child stand- 
ing on her knee. St. Joseph, seated below, reads ponderingly 
from a large volume. The picture is marked by a strong de- 
votional sentiment. It is described and engraved in Van Dyke's 
"Christ-Child in Art." 

9. Holy Family by Ittenbach. 

The Virgin seated on one side, St. Joseph, kneeling on 
the other. The Child stands on the Virgin's knee between 
them. His right arm is raised in blessing. The Virgin's 
face, like that of the Sancta Maria Virgo by the same artist, 
has a delicate spiritual beauty.] 

Sometimes, in a Holy Family of three figures, the third 
figure is neither St. John nor St. Joseph, but St. Anna. Now, 
according to some early authorities, both Joachim and Anna 


died, either before the marriage of Mary and Joseph, or at least 
before the return from Egypt. Such, however, was the popu- 
larity of these family groups, and the desire to give them all 
possible variety, that the ancient version of the story was over- 
ruled by the prevailing taste, and St. Anna became an impor- 
tant personage. One of the earliest groups in which the mother 
of the Virgin is introduced as a third personage is a celebrated, 
but to my taste not a pleasing, composition by Leonardo da 
Vinci, in which St. Anna is seated on a sort of chair, and the 
Virgin on her knees bends down towards the Infant Christ, 
who is sporting with a lamb. (Louvre.) 

Four Figures 

Tn a Holy Family of four figures, we have frequently the 
Virgin, the Child, and the Infant St. John, with St. Joseph 
standing by. Raphael's Madonna del Passeggio 1 is an exam- 
ple. In a picture by Palma Vecchio, St. John presents a 
lamb, while St. Joseph kneels before the Infant Christ, who, 
seated on his mother's knee, extends his arms to his foster 
father. Nicholas Poussin was fond of this group, and has re- 
peated it at least ten times with variations. 

But the most frequent group of four figures consists of the 
Virgin and Child, with St. John and his mother St. Elizabeth, 
the two mothers and the two sons. Sometimes the children 
are sporting together, or embracing each other, while Mary and 
Elizabeth look on with a contemplative tenderness, or seem 
to converse on the future destinies of their sons. A very favor- 
ite and appropriate action is that of St. Elizabeth presenting 
St. John, and teaching him to kneel and fold his hands, as ac- 
knowledging in his little cousin the Infant Saviour. We have, 
then, in beautiful contrast, the aged coifed head of Elizabeth, 
with its matronly and earnest expression ; the youthful bloom 
and soft virginal dignity of Mary ; and the different character 
of the boys, the fair complexion and delicate proportions of 
the Infant Christ, and the more robust and brown-complexioned 
John. [A modern painting of the Holy Family showing the 
four figures in these relations is by Carl Miiller. The Virgin 
bends over her beautiful Babe while Elizabeth presents the 

1 [The original of this picture is lost. There is an old copy in the Naples 
Museum and another in the Bridgewater Housed 


boy John to adore the Infant Saviour. The two groups are 
contrasted with excellent insight.] A great painter will be 
careful to express these distinctions, not by the exterior char- 
acter only, but will so combine the personages that the action 
represented shall display the superior dignity of Christ and 
his Mother. 

Five or Six Figures 

The addition of Joseph, as a fifth figure, completes the do- 
mestic group. The introduction of the aged Zacharias renders, 
however, yet more full and complete, the circle of human life 
and human affection. We have, then, infancy, youth, maturity, 
and age, — difference of sex and various degrees of relation- 
ship, combined into one harmonious whole ; and in the midst, 
the divinity of innocence, the Child-God, the brightness of a 
spiritual power, connecting our softest earthly affections with 
our highest heavenward aspirations. 1 

A Holy Family of more than six figures (the angels not in- 
cluded) is very unusual. But there are examples of groups 
combining all those personages mentioned in the Gospels as 
being related to Christ, though the nature and the degree of 
this supposed relationship has embarrassed critics and commen- 
tators, and is not yet settled. 

According to an ancient tradition, Anna, the mother of the 
Virgin Mary, was three times married, Joachim being her 
third husband : the two others were Cleophas and Salome. By 
Cleophas she had a daughter, also called Mary, who was the 
wife of Alpheus and the mother of Thaddeus, James Minor, 
and Joseph Justus. By Salome she had a daughter, also 
Mary, married to Zebedee, and the mother of James Major 
and John the Evangelist. This idea that St. Anna was suc- 
cessively the wife of three husbands, and the mother of three 
daughters, all of the name of Mary, has been rejected by later 
authorities ; but in the beginning of the sixteenth century it 
was accepted, and to that period may be referred the pictures, 
Italian and German, representing a peculiar version of the Holy 

1 The inscription under a Holy Family in which the children are caressing 
each other is sometimes " Delicia; meaj esse cum filiis hominum " (Prov. viii. 31: 
"My delights were with the sons of men.") 


Family more properly styled " the Family of the Virgin 

A pieture by Lorenzo di Favia, painted about 1513, exhibits 
a very complete example of this family group. Mary is seated 
in the centre, holding in her lap the Infant Christ; near her 
is St. Joseph. Behind the Virgin stands St. Anna, and three 
men, with their names inscribed, Joachim, Cleophas, and Sa- 
lome. On the right of the Virgin are Mary the daughter 
of Cleophas, Alpheus her husband, and her children, Thad- 
deus, James Minor, and Joseph Justus. On the left of the 
Virgin are Mary the daughter of Salome, her husband Zebedee, 
and her children James Major and John the Evangelist. 

A yet more beautiful example is a picture by Perugino in 
the Musee at Marseilles, which I have already cited and de- 
scribed in " Sacred and Legendary Art ; " here, also, the rela- 
tives of Christ, destined to be afterwards his apostles and the 
ministers of his word, are grouped around him in his infancy. 
In the centre Mary is seated and holding the Child ; St. Anna 
stands behind, resting her hands affectionately on the shoulders 
of the Virgin. In front, at the feet of the Virgin, are two 
boys, Joseph and Thaddeus ; and near them Mary, the daugh- 
ter of Cleophas, holds the hands of her third son, James Minor. 
To the right is Mary Salome, holding in her arms her son, 
John the Evangelist, and at her feet is her other son, James 
Major. Joseph, Zebedee, and other members of the family 
stand around. The same subject I have seen in illuminated 
MSS., and in German prints. It is worth remarking that all 
these appeared about the same time, between 1505 and 1520, 
and that the subject afterwards disappeared ; from which I 
infer that it was not authorized by the Church ; perhaps be- 
cause the exact degree of relationship between these young 
apostles and the Holy Family was not clearly made out, either 
by Scripture or tradition. 

In a composition by Farmigiano, Christ is standing at his 
mother's knee ; Elizabeth presents St. John the Baptist; the 
other little St. John kneels on a cushion. Behind the Virgin 
are St. Joachim and St. Anna ; and behind Elizabeth, Zebedee 
and Mary Salome, the parents of St. John the Evangelist. In 
the centre, Joseph looks on with folded hands. 


A catalogue raisonne of the Holy Families painted by .dis- 
tinguished artists including from two to six figures would fill 
volumes : I shall content myself with directing attention to 
some few examples, remarkable either for their celebrity, their 
especial beauty, or for some peculiarity, whether commendable 
or not, in the significance of the treatment. 

The strictly domestic conception may be said to have begun 
with Raphael and Correggio ; and they afford the most perfect 
examples of the tender and the graceful in sentiment and action, 
the softest parental feeling, the loveliest forms of childhood. 
Of the purely natural and familiar treatment, which came into 
fashion in the seventeenth century, the pictures of Guido, 
Rubens, and Murillo afford the most perfect specimens. 

1. Raphael. [The Holy Family of Francis I. in the 
Louvre, Paris.] Mary, a noble queenly creature, is seated, 
and bends towards her Child, who is springing from his cradle 
to meet her embrace ; Elizabeth presents St. John ; and 
Joseph, leaning on his hand, contemplates the group : two 
beautiful angels scatter flowers from above. This is the cele- 
brated picture once supposed to have been executed expressly 
for Francis I. ; but later researches prove it to have been 
painted for Lorenzo de' Medici, duke of Urbino. 1 

2. Correggio. Mary holds the Child upon her knee, look- 
ing down upon him fondly. Styled, from the introduction of 
the workbasket, "La Vierge au Panier." A finished example 
of that soft, yet joyful, maternal feeling for which Correggio 
was remarkable. (National Gallery.) 

3. Pinturicchio. In a landscape, Mary and Joseph are 
seated together ; near them are some loaves and a small cask 
of wine. More in front the two children, Jesus and St. John, 

1 It appears from the correspondence relative to this picture and the "St. 
Michael," that both pictures were painted by order of this Lorenzo de' Medici, 
the same who is figured j n Michael Angelo's Pensiero, and that they were in- 
tended as presents to Francis I. (See Dr. Gaye's Carter/yio, ii. 146 [and also 
the Life of Raphael, by Eugene Miintz, p. 411].) I have mentioned this Holy 
Family, not as the finest of Raphael's Madonnas, but because there is something 
peculiarly animated and dramatic in the motif considering the time at which 
it was painted. It was my intention to have given here a complete list of 
Raphael's Holy Families; but this has been so well done in the last English 
edition of Kugler's Handbook, that it has become superfluous as a repetition. 
The series of minute and exquisite drawings by Mr. George Scharf, appended 
to Kugler's catalogue, renders it easy to recognize all the groups described in 
this and the preceding pages. 


arc walking arm in arm; Jesus holds a Look, and John a 
pitcher, as if they W6W going to a well. (Siena Academy.) 

4. Andrea did Sarto. The Virgin is seated on the ground, 
and holds the Child; the young St. John is in the arms of St. 
Elizabeth, and Joseph is seen behind. (Louvre.) This pic- 
ture, another by the same painter in the National Gallery, 1 a 
third in the collection of Lord Landsdowne, and in general all 
the Holy Families of Andrea, may he cited as examples of tine 
execution and mistaken or defective character. No sentiment, 
no action, connects the personages either with each other, or 
with the spectator. 

5. Michael Ajigelo. The composition, in the Florence Gal- 
lery, style*! a Holy Family, appears to me a signal example of 
all that should he avoided. It is, as a conception, neither 
religions nor domestic ; in execution and character exaggerated 
and offensive, and in color hard and dry. 

Another, a bas-relief, in which the Child is shrinking from 
a bird held up by St. John, is very grand in the forms : the 
mistake in sentiment, as regards the bird, I have pointed out 
in the Introduction. 2 (Royal Academy, Burlington House, 
London.) A third, in which the Child leans pensively on a 
book lying open on his mother's knee, while she looks out on 
the spectator, is more properly a Muter Am<ibilis. (Bargello, 

There is an extraordinary fresco still preserved in the Casa 
Buonarroti at Florence, where it was painted on the wall by 
Michael Angelo, and styled a Holy Family, though the exact 
meaning of the subject has been often disputed. It appears to 
me, however, very clear, and one never before or since at- 
tempted by any other artist. 3 Mary is seated in the centre ; 
her Child is reclining on the ground between her knees ; and 
the little St. John, holding his cross, looks on him steadfastly. 
A man coming forward seems to ask of Mary, " Whose son is 
this ? " she most expressively puts aside Joseph with her hand, 
and looks up, as if answering, "Not the son of an earthly, but 

1 [The National Gallery Holy Family by Andrea del Sarto is considered by 
eritiC9 an inferior uurk, probably by a disciple or imitator.] 

- [This bas-relief is so unfinished that it is almost impossible to determine 
definitely the action of the child John. See description and engraving in the 
/.//'< of Michel Angelo by .1. A. Symonds.] 

J This fresco is engraved in the Etrutia 1'ittricc. 


of a heavenly Father ! " There are five other figures standing 
behind, and the whole group is most significant. 

6. Albert Dlirer. The Holy Family seated under a tree ; 
the Infant is about to spring from the knee of his mother into 
the outstretched arms of St. Anna ; Joseph is seen behind 
with his hat in his hand ; and to the left sits the aged Joachim 
contemplating the group. 

7. Mary appears to have just risen from her chair, the 
Child bends from her arms, and a young and very little angel, 
standing on tip-toe, holds up to him a flower — other flowers 
in his lap : a beautiful old German print. 

8. Giulio Romano. (La Madonna del Bacino.) (Dresden 
Gallery.) The Child stands in a basin, and the #young St. 
John pours water upon him from a vase, while Mary washes 
him. St. Elizabeth stands by, holding a napkin ; St. Joseph, 
behind, is looking on. Notwithstanding the homeliness of the 
action, there is here a religious and mysterious significance, 
prefiguring the Baptism. 

9. N. Poussin. Mary, assisted by angels, washes and dresses 
her Child. 

10. V. Salimbeni. An interior. Mary and Joseph are 
occupied by the Child. Elizabeth is spinning. More in front 
St. John is carrying two puppies in the lappet of his coat, and 
the dog is leaping up to him. This is one out of many in- 
stances in which the painter, anxious to vary the oft-repeated 
subject, and no longer restrained by refined taste or religious 
veneration, has fallen into a most offensive impropriety. (Pitti, 

11. Ippolito Andreasi. Mary, seated, holds the Infant 
Christ between her knees ; Elizabeth leans over the back of 
her chair ; Joseph leans on his staff behind the Virgin ; the 
little St. John and an angel present grapes, while four other 
angels are gathering and bringing them. A branch of vine, 
loaded with grapes, is lying in the foreground. Christ looks 
like a young Bacchus ; and there is something mannered and 
fantastic in the execution. (Louvre.) With this domestic 
scene is blended a strictly religious symbol, " / am the vine" 

12. Murillo. Mary is in the act of swaddling her Child 
(Luke ii. 7), while two angels, standing near him, solace the 
divine Infant with heavenly music. (Madrid Gallery.) 

13. Rubens. Mary, seated on the ground, holds the Child, 


with a charming maternal expression, a little from her, gazing 
on him with rapturous earnestness, while he looks up with 
responsive tenderness in her face. His right hand rests on a 
cross presented by St. John, who is presented by St. Elizabeth. 
Wonderful for the intensely natural and domestic expression, 
and the beauty of the execution. (Pitti, Florence.) 

M. D. Ilopfer. Within the porch of a building, Mary is 
seated on one side, reading intently. St. Anna, on the other 
side, holds out her arms to the Child, who is sitting on the 
ground between them: an angel looks in at the open door 
behind. (Bartsch, viii. 483.) 

15. Rembrandt. (Le Menage du Menuisier.) A rustic 
interior. Mary, seated in the centre, is suckling her Child. 
St. Anna, a fat Flemish grandame, has been reading the vol- 
ume of the Scriptures, and bends forward in order to remove 
the covering and look in the Infant's face. A cradle is near. 
Joseph is seen at work in the background. (Louvre.) 

16. Le Bran. (The Benedicite.) Mary, the Child, and 
Joseph are seated at a frugal repast. Joseph is in the act of 
reverently saying grace, which gives to the picture the title by 
which it is known. (Louvre. There is a celebrated engraving 
by Edelinck.) 

It is distinctly related, that Joseph brought up his foster 
Son as a carpenter, and that Jesus exercised the craft of his 
reputed father. In the Church, pictures we do not often meet 
with this touching and familiar aspect of the life of our 
Saviour. But in the small decorative pictures painted for the 
rich ecclesiastics, and for private oratories, and in the cheap 
prints which were prepared for distribution among the people, 
and became especially popular during the religious reaction of 
the seventeenth century, we find this homely version of the 
subject perpetually, and often most pleasingly, exhibited. 
The greatest and wisest Being who ever trod the earth was 
thus represented, in the eyes of the poor artificer, as ennobling 
and sanctifying labor and toil ; and the quiet domestic duties 
and affections were here elevated and hallowed by religious 
associations, and adorned by all the graces of Art. Even where 

the artistic treatment was not first-rat* was not such as the 

painters — priests and poets as well as painters — of the four- 
teenth and fifteenth centuries would have lent to such themes 


— still, if the sentiment and significance were but intelligible 
to those especially addressed, the purpose was accomplished, 
and the effect must have been good. 

I have before me an example in a set of twelve prints, 
executed in the Netherlands, exhibiting a sort of history of 
the childhood of Christ, and his training under the eye of his 
mother. It is entitled " Jesu Christi dei Domini Salva*toris 
nostri Infantia," "The Infancy of our Lord God and Saviour 
Jesus Christ ; " and the title-page is surrounded by a border 
composed of musical instruments, spinning-wheels, distaffs, and 
other implements of female industry, intermixed with all kinds 
of masons' and carpenters' tools. To each print is appended a 
descriptive Latin verse ; Latin being chosen, I suppose, because 
the publication was intended for distribution in different 
countries, and especially foreign missions, and to be explained 
by the priests to the people. 

1. The figure of Christ is seen in a glory surrounded by 
cherubim, etc. 

2. The Virgin is seated on the hill of Sion. The Infant in 
her lap, with outspread arms, looks up to a choir of angels, 
and is singing with them. 

3. Jesus, slumbering in his cradle, is rocked by two angels, 
while Mary sits by, engaged in needlework. 1 

4. The interior of a carpenter's shop. Joseph is plying his 
work, while Joachim stands near him. The Virgin is measur- 
ing linen, and St. Anna looks on. Two angels are at play 
with the Infant Christ, who is blowing soap-bubbles. 

5. While Mary is preparing the family meal, and watching 
a pot which is boiling on the fire, Joseph is seen behind chop- 
ping wood : more in front, Jesus is sweeping together the 
chips, and two angels are gathering them up. 

6. Mary is reeling off a skein of thread ; Joseph is squar- 

1 The Latin stanza beneath is remarkable for its elegance, and because it has 
been translated by Coleridge, who mentions that he found the print and the 
verse under it in a little inn in Germany. 

Dormi, Jesu, mater ridet, Sleep, sweet babe! my cares beguiling, 

Quae tarn dulcem somnem videt, Mother sits beside thee smiling; 

Dormi, Jesu, blandule! Sleep, my darling, tenderly! 

Si non dormis, mater plorat, If thou sleep not, mother mourneth, 

Inter fila cantans orat, Singing as her wheel she turneth: 

Blande, veni, somnule! Come, soft slumber, balmily! 


ing a plank ; Jesus is picking up the chips, assisted by two 

7. Mary is seated at her spinning-wheel; Joseph, assisted 
by Jesus, is sawing through a large beam ; two angels look- 
ing on. 

8. Mary is spinning with a distaff; behind, Joseph is saw- 
ing a beam, on which Jesus is standing above; and two angels 
are lifting a plank. 

9. Joseph is seen building up the framework of a house, 
assisted by an angel ; Jesus is boring a hole with a large gim- 
let ; an angel helps him ; Mary is winding thread. 

10. Joseph is -busy rooting in the house ; Jesus, assisted by 
the angels, is carrying a beam of wood up a ladder ; below, in 
front, Mary is carding wool or flax 

11. Joseph is building a boat, assisted by Jesus, who has a 
hammer and chisel in his hand : two angels help him. The 
Virgin is knitting a stocking ; and the new-built house is seen 
in the background. 

12. Joseph is erecting a fence round a garden ; Jesus, as- 
sisted by the angels, is fastening the palings together ; while 
Mary is weaving garlands of roses. 

Justin Martyr mentions, as a tradition of his time, that Je- 
sus assisted his foster father in making yokes and ploughs. In 
Holland, where these prints were published, the substitution 
of the boat-building seems very natural. St. Bonaventura, the 
great Franciscan theologian, and a high authority in all that 
relates to the life and character of Mary, not only describes 
her as a pattern of female industry, but alludes particularly to 
the legend of the distaff, and mentions a tradition, that when 
in Egypt, the Holy Family was so reduced by poverty, that 
Mary begged from door to door the fine flax which she after- 
wards spun into a garment for her Child. 

As if to render the circle of maternal duties, and thereby 
the maternal example, more complete, there are prints of Mary 
leading her Son to school. I have seen one in which he car- 
ries his horn-book in his hand. Such representations, though 
popular, were condemned by the highest church authorities as 
nothing less than heretical. The Abbe Me'ry counts among 
the artistic errors " which endanger the faith of good Chris- 
tians," those pictures which represent Mary or Joseph instruct- 


ing the Infant Christ ; as if all learning, all science, divine 
and human, were not his by intuition, and without any earthly 
teaching. ( Vide Theologie des Peintres.) A beautiful Holy 
Family, by Schidone, is entitled, " The Infant Christ learning 
to read" (Bridge water Gallery) ; and we frequently meet with 
pictures in. which the mother holds a book, while the divine 
Child, with a serious intent expression, turns over the leaves, 
or points to the letters : but I imagine that these, and similar 
groups, represent Jesus instructing Mary and Joseph, as he is 
recorded to have done. There is also a very pretty legend, in 
which he is represented as exciting the astonishment of the 
schoolmaster Zaccheus by his premature wisdom. On these, 
and other details respecting the infancy of our Saviour, I shall 
have to say much more when treating of the History of Christ. 

The Dispute in the Temple 
Ital. La Disputa nel Tempio. Fr. Jesus au milieu des Docteurs. 

The subject which we call the dispute in the Temple, or 
" Christ among the Doctors," is a scene of great importance in 
the life of the Redeemer. (Luke ii. 41-52.) His appearance 
in the midst of the doctors, at twelve years old, when he sat 
" hearing them and asking them questions, and all who heard 
him were astonished at his understanding and his answers," 
has been interpreted as the first manifestation of his high char- 
acter as teacher of men, as one come to throw a new light on 
the prophecies, — 

For trailing clouds of glory had he come 
From heaven, which was his home; 

and also as instructing us that those who are to become teach- 
ers of men ought, when young, to listen to the voice of age 
and experience ; and that those who have grown old may learn 
lessons of wisdom from childish innocence. Such is the his- 
torical and scriptural representation. But in the life of the 
Virgin the whole scene changes its signification. It is no 

longer the wisdom of the Son, it is the sorrow of the Mother 
which is the principal theme. In their journey home from 
Jerusalem, Jesus has disappeared ; he who was the light of 
her eyes, whose precious existence had been so often threat- 
ened, has left her care, and gone she knows not whither. 



Christ among the Doctors (attributed to Giotto) 

u No fancy can imagine the doubts, the apprehensions, the pos- 
sibilities of mischief, the tremblings of heart, which the holy 
Virgin-mother feels thronging in her bosom. For three days 
she seeks him in doubt and anguish." 1 At length he is found 
seated in the temple in the midst of the learned doctors, " hear- 
ing them and asking them questions." And she said unto 
him, " Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us ? behold, I and 
thy father have sought thee sorrowing." And he said unto 
them, " How is it that ye sought me ? wist ye not that I must 
be about my Father's business?" 

Now there are two ways of representing this scene. In all 
the earlier pictures, it is chiefly with reference to the Virgin- 
mother ; it is one of the sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary. 
The Child Jesus sits in the temple, teaching with hand up- 
1 Jeremy Taylor's Life of Christ. 


lifted ; the doctors round him turn over the leaves of their 
great books, searching the law and the prophets. Some look 
up at the young inspired Teacher — he who was above the 
law, yet came to obey the law and fulfil the prophecies — with 
amazement. Conspicuous in front stand Mary and Joseph, and 
she is in act to address to him the tender reproach, " I and thy 
father have sought thee sorrowing." In the early examples she 
is a principal figure, but in later pictures she is seen entering in 
the background ; and where the scene relates only to the life 
of Christ, the figures of Joseph and Mary are omitted alto- 
gether, and the Child-teacher becomes the central, or at least 
the chief, personage in the group. 

In a picture [in the Venice Academy], the subject is taken out 
of the region of the actual, and treated altogether as a mystery. 
In the centre sits the young Redeemer, his hand raised, and 
surrounded by several of the Jewish doctors ; while in front 
stand the four fathers of the Church, who flourished in the in- 
tervals between the fourth and sixth centuries after Christ ; and 
these, holding their books, point to Jesus, or look to him, as to 
the source of their wisdom — a beautiful and poetical version 
of the true significance of the story, which the critics of the last 
century would call a chronological mistake. [Formerly attrib- 
uted to Giovanni da Udine, but probably of Palma's school.] 

But those representations which come under our especial 
consideration at present are such as represent the moment in 
which Mary appears before her Son. The earliest instance of 
this treatment is a group [attributed to] Giotto [or some pupil, 
in the Academy, Florence]. Dante cites the deportment of 
the Virgin on this occasion, and her mild reproach, " con atto 
dolce di madre n (Purgatorio, c. xv.), as a signal lesson of 
gentleness and forbearance. It is as if he had transferred the 
picture of Giotto into his vision ; for it is as a picture, not an 
action, that it is introduced. Another, by Simone Memmi in 
the Royal Institution at Liverpool, is conceived in a similar 
spirit. In a picture by Garofalo, Mary does not reproach her 
Son, but stands listening to him with her hands folded on her 
bosom. In a large and fine composition by Pinturicchio, the 
doctors throw down their books before him, while the Virgin 
and Joseph are entering on one side. 1 The subject is con- 

1 [Reference is doubtless to the fresco at Spello described by Crowe and 
Cavalcaselle, History of Painting in Italy, vol. iii. p. 277.] 


spicuous in Albert Dlirer's "Life of the Virgin," where Jesus is 
seated on high, as one having authority, teaching from a chair 
like that of a professor in a university, and surrounded hy the 
old bearded doctors ; and Mary stands before her Son in an 
attitude of expostulation. 

After the restoration of Jesus to his parents, they conducted 
him home; " but his mother kept all these sayings in her 
heart." The return to Nazareth, Jesus walking humbly be- 
tween Joseph and Mary, was painted by Rubens for the Jesuit 
College at Antwerp, as a lesson to youth. Underneath is the 
text, " And he was subject unto them." It has been called 
by mistake " The Return from Egypt " [and is so named in 
the catalogue of the Metropolitan Art Gallery, New York, 
where the picture now belongs]. 

The Death of Joseph 

Ital. La Morte di San Giuseppe. Fr. La Mort de St. Joseph. 
Ger. Josef's Tod. 

Between the journey to Jerusalem and the public appear- 
ance of Jesus, chronologers place the death of Joseph, but the 
exact date is not ascertained ; some place it in the eighteenth 
year of the life of our Saviour, and others in his twenty-seventh 
year, when, as they assert, Joseph was one hundred and eleven 
years old. 

I have already observed, that the enthusiasm for the charac- 
ter of Joseph, and his popularity as a saint and patron of 
power, date from the fifteenth century ; and late in the six- 
teenth century I find, for the first time, the death of Joseph 
treated as a separate subject. It appears that the supposed 
anniversary of his death (July 20) had long been regarded in 
the East as a solemn festival, and that it was the custom to 
read publicly, on this occasion, some homily relating to his 
life and death. The very curious Arabian work, entitled "The 
History of Joseph the Carpenter," is supposed to be one of 
these ancient homilies, and, in its original form, as old as the 
fourth century. 1 Here the death of Joseph is described with 

1 The Arabic MS. in the library at Paris is of the year 1299, and the Coptic 
version as old as 1367. Extracts from these were become current in the legends 
of the West about the fifteenth century. See the Neu Testamentlichen Apolc- 
yyphen, edited in German by Dr. K. F. Borberg. 


great detail, and with many solemn and pathetic circumstances ; 
and the whole history is put into the mouth of Jesus, who is 
supposed to recite it to his disciples : he describes the pious 
end of Joseph ; he speaks of himself as being present, and 
acknowledged by the dying man as " Redeemer and Messiah," 
and he proceeds to record the grief of Mary : — 

" And my. mother, the Virgin, arose, and she came nigh to 
me and said, ' my beloved Son, now must the good old man 
die ! ' and I answered and said unto her, i O my most dear 
mother, needs must all created beings die ; and death will have 
his rights, even over thee, beloved mother ; but death to him 
and to thee is no death, only the passage to eternal life ; and 
this body I have derived from thee shall also undergo 
death.' » 

And they sat, the Son and the mother, beside Joseph ; and 
Jesus held his hand, and watched the last breath of life trem- 
bling on his lips ; and Mary touched his feet, and they were 
cold ; and the daughters and the sons of Joseph wept and 
sobbed around in their grief ; and then Jesus adds, tenderly, 
"I, and my mother Mary, we wept with them." 

Then follows a truly oriental scene, of the evil angels rising 
up with Death, and rejoicing in his power over the saint, while 
Jesus rebukes them ; and at his prayer God sends down 
Michael, prince of the angelic host, and Gabriel, the herald of 
light, to take possession of the departing spirit, enfold it in a 
robe of brightness, thereby to preserve it from the "dark 
angels," and carry it up into heaven. 

This legend of the death of Joseph was, in many forms, popu- 
lar in the sixteenth century ; hence arose the custom of invoking 
him as intercessor to obtain a blessed and peaceful end, so that 
he became, in some sort, the patron saint of death-beds ; and it 
is at this time we find the first representations of the death of 
Joseph, afterwards a popular subject in the churches and con- 
vents of the Augustine canons and Carmelite friars, who had 
chosen him for their patron saint ; and also in family chapels 
consecrated to the memory or the repose of the dead. 

The finest example I have seen is by Carlo Maratti, in the 
Vienna Gallery. St. Joseph is on a couch ; Christ is seated 
near him ; and the Virgin stands by with folded hands, in a 
sad, contemplative attitude. 


I am not aware that the Virgin has ever been introduced 
into any representation of the temptation or the baptism of our 


The Marriage at Can a in Galilee 

Ital. La Nozze di Cana. Fr. Los Noces de Cana. Ger. Die Iloch- 

zeit zu Cana. 

After his temptation and baptism, the first manifestation of 
the divine mission and miraeulous power of Jesus was at the 
wedding feast at Cana in Galilee j and those who had devoted 
themselves to the especial glorification of the Virgin-mother 
did not forget that it was at her request this first miracle was 
accomplished; that out of her tender and sympathetic com- 
miseration for the apparent want arose her appeal to him — 
not, indeed, as requiring anything from him, but looking to 
him with habitual dependence on his goodness and power. She 
simply said, "They have no wine!" lie replied, "Woman, 
what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come." 
The term woman, thus used, sounds harsh to us ; but in the 
original is a term of respect. Nor did Jesus intend any denial 
to the mother whom he regarded with dutiful and pious rever- 
ence : it was merely an intimation that he was not yet entered 
into the period of miraculous power. He anticipated it, how- 
ever, for her sake, and because of her request. Such is the 
view taken of this beautiful and dramatic incident by the early 
theologians ; and in the same spirit it has been interpreted by 
the painters. 

The Marriage at Cana appears very seldom in the ancient 
representations taken from the Gospel. All the monkish insti- 
tutions then prevalent discredited marriage ; and it is clear 
that this distant consecration of the rite by the presence of the 
Saviour and his Mother did not find favor with the early 
patrons of Art. 

There is an old Greek tradition, that the Marriage at Cana 
was that of John the Evangelist. In the thirteenth century, 
when the passionate enthusiasm for Mary Magdalene was at its 
height, it was a popular article of belief that the Marriage 
which Jesus graced with his presence was that of John the 
Evangelist and Mary Magdalene ; and that immediately after 
the wedding feast, St. John and Mary, devoting themselves to 


an austere and chaste religious life, followed Christ, and min- 
istered to him. 

As a scene in the life of Christ, the Marriage at Cana is of 
course introduced incidentally ; but even here, such were the 
monastic principles and prejudices, that I find it difficult to 
point out any very early example. In the " Manual of Greek 
Art," published by Didron, the rules for the representation are 
thus laid down : " A table, around it Scribes and Pharisees ; 
one holds up a cup of wine, and seems astonished. In the 
midst the bride and bridegroom are seated together. The 
bridegroom is to have ' gray hair and a round beard ' (cheveux 
gris et barbe arrondie) ; both are to be crowned with flowers ; 
behind them, a servitor. Christ, the Virgin, and Joseph, are 
to be on one side, and on the other are six jars ; the attend- 
ants are in the act of filling them with water from leathern 

The introduction of Joseph is quite peculiar to Greek Art ; 
and the more curious, that in the list of Greek subjects there 
is not one from his life, or in which he is a conspicuous figure. 
On the other hand, the astonished " ruler of the feast " ( the 
Architriclino), so dramatic, and so necessary to the compre- 
hension of the scene, is scarcely ever omitted. The Apostles 
whom we may imagine to be present are Peter, Andrew, James, 
and John. 

As a separate subject, the Marriage at Cana first became popu- 
lar in the Venetian school, and thence extended to the Lom- 
bard and German schools of the same period, that is, about the 
beginning of the sixteenth century. 

The most beautiful representation I have ever seen is a fresco, 
by Luini, in the church of San Maurizio, at Milan. It belongs 
to a convent of nuns ; and I imagine, from its introduction 
there, that it had a mystic signification, and referred to a divine 
Sposalizio. In this sense the treatment is perfect. There 
are just the number of figures necessary to tell the story, and 
no more. It is the bride who is here the conspicuous figure, 
seated in the centre, arrayed in spotless white, and represented 
as a nun about to make her profession ; for this is evidently 
the intended signification. The bridegroom is at her side, and 
near to the spectator. Christ and the Virgin are seated together, 
and appear to be conversing. A man presents a cup of wine. 


Including guests and attendants, there are only twelve figures. 
The only fault of this exquisite; and graceful composition is 
the introduction of a eat and dog in front; we feel that they 
ought to have been omitted, us giving occasion for irreverent 
witticisms. This beautiful fresco, which is seldom seen, being 
behind the altar, was in a very ruined condition when L saw it 
last, in L856. 

In contrast with this picture, and as a gorgeous specimen of 
the Venetian style of treatment, we may turn to [Veronese's] 
"Marriage at (ana" in the Louvre, originally painted to 
cover one side of the refectory of the convent of San Gior- 
gio Maggiorc at Venice, whence it was carried off by the 
French in 1796. This immense picture is about thirty -six feet 
in length, and about twenty feet in height, and contains more 
than a hundred figures above life size. In the centre Christ is 
seated, and beside him the Virgin-mother. Both heads are 
merely commonplace, and probably portraits, like those of the 
other personages at the extremity of the table. On the left 
are seated the bride and bridegroom. In the foreground a 
company of musicians are performing a concert; behind the 
table is a balustrade, where are seen numerous servants occu- 
pied in cutting up the viands and serving dishes, with attend- 
ants and spectators. The chief action to be represented, the 
astonishing miracle performed by him at whose command " the 
fountain blushed into w r ine," is here quite a secondary matter ; 
ami the value of the picture lies in its magnitude and variety 
as a composition, and the portraits of the historical characters 
and remarkable personages introduced — Francis I., his queen, 
Eleanora of Austria, Charles V., and others. In the group of 
musicians in front we recognize Titian and Tintoretto, old Bas- 
sano, and Paolo himself. 

The Marriage at Cana, as a refectory subject, had been un- 
known till this time ; it became popular, and Paolo [Veronese] 
afterwards repeated it several times. The most beautiful of all, 
to my feeling, is that in the Dresden Gallery, where the " ruler 
of the feast," holding up the glass of wine with admiration, 
seems to exclaim, " Thou hast kept the good wine until now." 
In another, which is at Milan, the Virgin turns round to the 
attendant, and desires him to obey her Son, — " Whatsoever 
he saith unto you, do it ! " 

As the Marriage at Cana belongs, as a subject, rather to the 


history of Christ than to that of the Virgin his Mother, I 
shall not enter into it further here, but proceed. 

The Ministry of Christ 

After the marriage at Cana in Galilee, which may be re- 
garded as the commencement of the miraculous mission of our 
Lord, we do not hear anything of his Mother, the Virgin, till 
the time approached when he was to close his ministry by his 
death. She is not once referred to by name in the Gospels 
until the scene of the Crucifixion. We are indeed given to 
understand, that in the journeys of our Saviour, and particu- 
larly when he went up from Nazareth to Jerusalem, the women 
followed and ministered to him (Matt, xxvii. 55 ; Luke viii. 2) ; 
and those who have written the life of the Virgin for the edi- 
fication of the people, and those who have translated it into 
the various forms of Art, have taken it for granted that She, 
his Mother, could not have been absent or indifferent where 
others attended with affection and zeal : but I do not remem- 
ber any scene in which she is an actor, or even a conspicuous 

Among the carvings on the stalls at Amiens there is one 
which represents the passage (Matt. xii. 46) wherein our Sa- 
viour, preaching in Judea, is told that his mother and his breth- 
ren stand without. " But he answered and said unto him that 
told him, Who is my mother, and who are my brethren ? 
And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said. 
Behold my mother and my brethren ! " The composition 
exhibits on one side Jesus standing and teaching his disciples; 
while on the other, through an open door, we perceive the Vir- 
gin and two or three others. This representation is very rare. 
The date of these stalls is the sixteenth century ; and such a 
group in a series of the life of the Virgin could not, I think, 
have occurred in the fifteenth. It would have been quite in- 
consistent with all the religious tendencies of that time, to 
exhibit Christ as preaching within, while his "divine and most 
glorious " Mother was standing without. 

The theologians of the middle ages insist on the close and 
mystical relation which they assure us existed between Christ 
and his Mother : however far separated, there was constant 
communion between them ; and wherever he might be — in 


whatever acts of love, or mercy, or benign wisdom occupied 
for the good of man — there was also his Mother, present with 
him in the spirit. I think we can trace the impress of this 
mysticism in some of the productions of the fourteenth and 
fifteenth centuries. For example, among the frescoes by An- 
gelico da Fiesole in the cloisters of St. Mark, at Florence, there 
is one of the Transfiguration, where the Saviour stands glori- 
fied with arms outspread — a simple and sublime conception — 
and on each side half-figures of Moses and Elias : lower down 
appear the Virgin and St. Dominick. There is also in the 
same series a fresco of the Last Supper as the Eucharist, in 
which the Virgin is kneeling, glorified, on one side of the 
picture, and appears as a partaker of the rite. Such a version 
of either subject must be regarded as wholly mystical and ex- 
ceptional, and I am not acquainted with any other instance. 

Lo Spasimo. 

" what avails me now that honor high, 
To have conceived of God, and that salute, 
1 Hail, highly favored among women blest ! ' 
While I to sorrows am no less advanced, 
And fears as eminent, above the lot 
Of other women by the birth I bore." 

" This is my favored lot, 
My exaltation to afflictions high." 


In the Passion of our Lord, taken in connection with the 
life of the Virgin-mother, there are three scenes in which she 
is associated with the action as an important, if not a princi- 
pal, personage. 

We are told in the Gospel of St. John (chap, xvii.), that 
Christ took a solemn farewell of his disciples : it is therefore 
supposed that he did not go up to his death without taking 
leave of his Mother — without preparing her for that grievous 
agony by all the comfort that his tender and celestial pity and 
superior nature could bestow. This parting of Christ and his 
Mother before the Crucifixion is a modern subject. I am not 
acquainted with any example previous to the beginning of the 
sixteenth century. The earliest I have met with is by Albert 
Dlirer, in the series of the Life of the Virgin, but there are 
probably examples more ancient, or at least contemporary. In 


Albert Durer's composition, Mary is sinking to the earth, as if 
overcome with affliction, and is sustained in the arms of two 
women ; she looks up with folded hands and streaming eyes to 
her Son, who stands before her ; he, with one hand extended, 
looks down upon her compassionately, and seems to give her 
his last benediction. I remember another instance, by Paul 
Veronese, full of that natural affectionate sentiment which 
belonged to the Venetian school. (Pitti, Florence.) In a very 
beautiful picture by Carotto of Verona, Jesus kneels before his 
Mother, and receives her benediction before he departs : this 
must be regarded as an impropriety, a mistake in point of sen- 
timent, considering the peculiar relation between the two per- 
sonages ; but it is a striking instance of the popular notions of 
the time respecting the high dignity of the Virgin-mother. I 
have not seen it repeated. 1 (Verona, San Bernardino.) 

It appears from the Gospel histories, that the women who 
had attended upon Christ during his ministry failed not in 
their truth and their love to the last. In the various circum- 
stances of the Passion of our Lord, where the Virgin-mother 
figures as an important personage, certain of these women are 
represented as always near her, and sustaining her with a ten- 
der and respectful sympathy. Three are mentioned by name 
— Mary Magdalene, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary 
the mother of James and John. Martha, the sister of Mary 
Magdalene, is also included, as I infer from her name, which 
in several instances is inscribed in the nimbus encircling her 
head. I have in another place given the story of Martha, and 
the legends which in the fourteenth century converted her into 
a very important character in sacred Art. (Sacred and Legend- 
ary Art.) These women, therefore, form, with the Virgin, 
the group of five female figures which are generally included 
in the scriptural scenes from the Life of Christ. 

Of course, these incidents, and more especially the " Proces- 
sion to Calvary w and the " Crucifixion," belong to another 
series of subjects (the History of our Lord) ; but they are 
also included in a series of the Rosary as two of the mystical 

1 It is worth remarking, with regard to this picture, that the intendant of the 
convent rebuked the artist, declaring that he had made the Saviour show too 
little reverence for his Mother, seeing that he knelt to her on one knee only. 
See the anecdote in Vasari, vol. i. p. 651. Fl. edit. 1838. 


Sorrows ; ami under this point of view I must draw attention 
to the peculiar treatment of the Virgin in some remarkable 
examples, which will serve as a guide to others. 

The Procession to Calvary (II Portamento del Croce) fol- 
lowed a path leading from the gate of Jerusalem to Mount 
Calvary, which has been kept in remembrance and sanctified 
as the Via Dolorosa ; and there is a certain spot near the 
summit of the hill, where, according to a very ancient tradi- 
tion, the Virgin-mother, and the women her companions, placed 
themselves to witness the sorrowful procession ; where the 
Mother, beholding her divine Son dragged along, all bleeding 
from the scourge, and sinking under his cross, in her extreme 
agony sank, fainting, to the earth. This incident gave rise to 
one of the mournful festivals of the Passion Week, under the 
title, in French, of Notre Dame du Spasme or du Pdmoison ; 
in Italian La Madonna dello Spasimo, or II Pianto di Maria ; 
and this is the title given to some of those representations in 
which the affliction of Mary is a prominent part of the tragic 
interest of the scene. She is sometimes sinking to the earth, 
sustained by the women or by St. John ; sometimes she stands 
with clasped hands, mute and motionless with excess of 
anguish ; sometimes she stretches out her arms to her Son, as 
Jesus, sinking under the weight of his cross, turns his benign 
eyes upon her and the others who follow him: " Daughters of 
Jerusalem, weep not for me ! " 

This is the moment chosen by Raphael in that sublime 
composition celebrated under the title " Lo Spasimo di Sicilia " 
(Madrid Gallery); so called because it was originally painted 
for the high altar of the church of the Sicilian Olivetans at 
Palermo, dedicated to the Madonna dello Spasimo. It was 
thence removed, by order of Philip IV. of Spain, early in the 
seventeenth century, and is now placed in the gallery at Ma- 
drid. Here the group of the five women forms an important 
part of the picture, occupying the foreground on the right. 
The expression in the face of the Mother, stretching forth her 
arms to her Son with a look of appealing agony, has always 
been cited as one of the great examples of Raphael's tragic 
power. It is well known that in this composition the attitude 
of Christ was suggested by the contemporary engraving of 
Martin Schoen ; but the prominence given to the group of 


women, the dramatic propriety and pathetic grace in the action, 
of each, and the consummate skill shown in the arrangement 
of the whole, belong only to Raphael. 1 In Martin Schoen's 
vivid composition, the Virgin, and the women her companions, 
are seen far off in the background, crouching in the " hollow 
way " between two cliffs, from which spot, according to the 
old tradition, they beheld the sad procession. We have quite 
a contrary arrangement in an early composition by Lucas van 
Leyden. The procession to Calvary is seen moving along in 
the far distance, while the foreground is occupied by two fig- 
ures only, Mary in a trance of anguish sustained by the weep- 
ing St. John. 

In a very fine " Portamento della Croce," by Gaudenzio 
Ferrari, one of the soldiers or executioners, in repulsing the 
sorrowful Mother, lifts up a stick as if to strike her — a gratu- 
itous act of ferocity, which shocks at once the taste and the 
feelings, and, without adding anything to the pathos of the 
situation, detracts from the religious dignity of the theme. It 
is like the soldier kicking our Saviour, which I remember to 
have seen in a version of the subject by a much later painter, 
Daniele Crespi. 

Murillo represents Christ as fainting under the weight of 
the cross, while the Virgin sits on the ground by the wayside, 
gazing on him with fixed eyes and folded hands, and a look of 
unutterable anguish. This picture, remarkable for the intense 
expression, was in the collection of Lord Orford, and sold in 
June, 1856. [Vide Bedford's Sales, vol. i. p. 153, vol. ii. p. 

The Ecce Homo, by Correggio, in our National Gallery, is 
treated in a very peculiar manner with reference to the Virgin, 
and is, in fact, another version of Lo Spasimo, the fourth of 

1 The veneration at all times entertained for this picture was probably en- 
hanced by a remarkable fact in its history. Raphael painted it towards the 
close of the year 1517, and when finished it was embarked at the port of Ostia, 
to be consigned to Palermo. A storm came on, the vessel foundered at sea, and 
all was lost except the case containing this picture, which was floated by the 
currents into the Bay of Genoa; and, on being landed, the wondrous master- 
piece of Art was taken out unhurt. The Genoese at first refused to give it up, 
insisting that it had been preserved and floated to their shores by the miraculous 
interposition of the Blessed Virgin herself ; and it required a positive mandate 
from the pope before they would restore it to the Olivetan fathers. See Passa- 
vant's Rafael, i. 292 [of Ger. ed. ; page 238 in Eng. abridged ed.] 



her ineffable sorrows. Here Christ, as exhibited to the people 
by Pilate, is placed in the distance, and is in all respects the 
least important part of the picture, of which we have the real 
subject in the far more prominent figure of the Virgin in the 
foreground. At sight of the agony and degradation of her 
Son, she closes her eyes, and is on the point of swooning. 
The pathos of expression in the half-unconscious face and 
helpless, almost lifeless hands, which seem to seek support, is 
particularly line. 

The Crucifixion 

"Verum stabas, optima Mater, juxta crucem Filii tui, non solum corpore, sed 
mentis constantia." 

This great subject belongs more particularly to the Life of 
Christ. It is, I observe, always omitted in a series of the Life 
of the Virgin, unless it be the Kosary, in which the " Vigil of 
the Virgin by the Cross " is the fifth and greatest of the Seven 

We cannot fail to remark, that whether the Crucifixion be 
treated as a mystery or as an event, Mary is always an impor- 
tant figure. 

In the former case she stands alone on the right of the 
cross, and St. John on the left. 1 She looks up with an ex- 
pression of mingled grief and faith, or bows her head upon her 
clasped hands in resignation. In such a position she is the 
idealized Mater Dolorosa, the Daughter of Jerusalem, the per- 
sonified Church mourning for the great Sacrifice ; and this view 
of the subject I have already discussed at length. 

On the other hand, when the Crucifixion is treated as a great 
historical event, as a living scene acted before our eyes, then 
the position and sentiment given to the Virgin are altogether 
different, but equally fixed by the traditions of Art. That 
she was present, and near at hand, we must presume from the 
Gospel of St. John, who was an eye-witness ; and most of the 
theological writers infer that on this occasion her constancy 
and sublime faith were even greater than her grief, and that her 
heroic fortitude elevated her equally above the weeping women 

1 It lias been a question with the learned whether the Virgin Man', with St. 
John, ought not to stand on the left of the cross, in allusion to Psalm cxlii. (al- 
ways interpreted as prophetic of the Passion of Christ) ver. 4 : "I looked on 
my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me." 


and the timorous disciples. This is not, however, the view 
which the modern painters have taken, and even the most 
ancient examples exhibit the maternal grief for a while over- 
coming constancy. She is standing indeed, but in a fainting 
attitude, as if about to sink to the earth, and is sustained in 
the arms of the two Maries, assisted sometimes, but not gener- 
ally, by St. John ; Mary Magdalene is usually embracing the 
foot of the cross. With very little variation this is the usual 
treatment down to the beginning of the sixteenth century. I 
do not know who was the first artist who placed the Mother 
prostrate on the ground ; but it must be regarded as a fault, 
and as detracting from the high religious dignity of the scene. 
In all the greatest examples, from Cimabue, Giotto, and Pietro 
Cavallini, down to Angelico, Masaccio, and Andrea Mantegna, 
and their contemporaries, Mary is uniformly standing. 

. In a Crucifixion by Martin Schoen, the Virgin, partly held 
up in the arms of St. John, embraces with fervor the foot of 
the cross : a very rare and exceptional treatment, for this is 
the proper place of Mary Magdalene. In Albert Diirer's com- 
position, she is just in the act of sinking to the ground in a 
very natural attitude, as if her limbs had given way under 
her. In Tintoretto's celebrated Crucifixion we have an exam- 
ple of the Virgin placed on the ground, which, if not one of 
the earliest, is one of the most striking of the more modern 
conceptions. Here the group at the foot of the cross is won- 
derfully dramatic and expressive, but certainly the reverse of 
dignified. Mary lies fainting on the earth ; one arm is sus- 
tained by St. John, the other is round the neck of a woman 
w r ho leans against the bosom of the Virgin, with eyes closed, 
as if lost in grief. Mary Magdalene and another look up to 
the crucified Saviour, and more in front a woman kneels 
wrapped up in a cloak, and hides her face. (Venice, San 

Zani has noticed the impropriety here, and in other in- 
stances, of exhibiting the Grandissima Donna as prostrate, 
and in a state of insensibility ; a style of treatment which, in 
more ancient times, would have been inadmissible. The idea 
embodied by the artist should be that which Bishop Taylor 
has painted in words : " By the cross stood the holy Virgin- 
mother, upon whom old Simeon's prophecy was now verified ; 
for now she felt a sword passing through her very soul. She 


stood without clamor and womanish noises ; sad, silent, and with 
a modest grief, deep as the waters of the abyss, but smooth as 
the face of a pool ; full of love, and patience, and sorrow, and 
hope ! " To suppose that this noble creature lost all power 
over her emotions, lost her consciousness of the " high afflic- 
tion " she was called to sutler, is quite unworthy of the grand 
ideal of womanly perfection here placed before us. It is clear, 
however, that in the later representations the intense expres- 
sion of maternal anguish in the hymn of the Stabat Mater 
gave the key to the prevailing sentiment. And as it is some- 
times easier to faint than to endure, so it was easier for certain 
artists to express the pallor and prostration of insensibility 
than the sublime faith and fortitude which in that extremest 
hour of trial conquered even a mother's unutterable woe. 

That most affecting moment, in which the dying Saviour 
recommends his Mother to the care of the best beloved of his 
disciples, I have never seen worthily treated. There are, how- 
ever, some few Crucifixions in which I presume the idea to 
have been indicated ; as where the Virgin stands leaning on 
St. John, with his sustaining arm reverently round her, and 
both looking up to the Saviour, whose dying face is turned 
towards them. There is an instance by Albert Dlirer (the wood- 
cut in the series " Large" Passion "). But the examples are so 
few as to be exceptional. 

The Descent from the Gross and the Deposition are 
two separate themes. In the first, according to the antique 
formula, the Virgin should stand ; for here, as in the Cruci- 
fixion, she must be associated with the principal action, and 
not, by the excess of her grief, disabled from taking her part in 
it. In the old legend it is said, that when Joseph of Arima- 
thea and Nicodemus wrenched out the nails w r hich fastened 
the hands of our Lord to the cross, St. John took them away 
secretly, that his Mother might not see them — " affin que la 
Vierge Maria ne les veit pas, crainte (pie le cceur ne lui amo- 
list." And then, while Xicodemus drew forth the nails which 
fastened his feet, Joseph of Arimathea sustained the body, so 
that the head and arms of the dead Saviour hung over his 
shoulder. And the afflicted Mother, seeing this, arose on her 
feet, and she took the bleeding hands of her Son, as they hung 
down, and clasped them in her own, and kissed him tenderly. 



And then, indeed, she sank to the earth, because of the great 
anguish she suffered, lamenting her Son, whom the cruel Jews 
had murdered. 1 

The first action described in this legend (the afflicted Mother 
embracing the arm of her Son) is precisely that which was 

Group from Descent from Cross (Volterra) 

adopted by the Greek masters, and by the early Italians who 
followed them, Niccolo Pisano, Cimabue, Giotto, Puccio Ca- 

1 "Tant qu'il n'y a coeur si dur, ni entendement d'homme qui n'y deust 
penser. 'Lasse, mon confort! m'amour et ma joye, que les Juifz ont faict 
mourir h grand tort et sans cause pour ce qu'il leur monstrait leurs faultes et 
enseignoit leur saulvement! O felons et mauvais Juifz, ne m'epargnez pas! 
puisque vous crucifiez mon enfant crucifiez moy — moy qui suis sadolente mere, 
et me tuez d'aucune mort affin que je meure avec luy ! ' " Vide the old 
French legend, Vie de Notre Dame la glorieuse Vierge Marie. [Rendered 
into English : So that there is no heart so hard, nor mind of man but that 
must needs think of it. " Woe is me, my comfort! my love, and my joy, whom 
the Jews have wrongly put to death for no other reason than that he showed 
them their faults and taught them salvation ! O wicked and cruel Jews, do not 
spare me! since you crucify my child, crucify me — me his sorrowing mother, 
and kill me by any death so that I may die with him ! " 



Deposition (Raphael) 

panna, Duccio di Siena, and others from the thirteenth to the 
fifteenth century. But in later pictures, the Virgin in the 
extremity of her grief has sunk to the ground. In an altar- 
piece by Cigoli, she is seated on the earth, looking out of the 
picture, as if appealing, " Was ever sorrow like unto my sor- 
row ? " while the crown of thorns lies before her. This is 
very beautiful ; but even more touching is the group in the 
famous " Descent from the Cross," the masterpiece of Daniel 
di Volterra (Rome, Trinity de' Monti) : here the fainting form 
of the Virgin, extended on the earth, and the dying anguish 
in her face, have never been exceeded, and are, in fact, the 
chief merit of the picture. In the famous Descent at Antwerp, 
the masterpiece of Rubens, Mary stands, and supports the arm 
of her Son as he is let down from the cross. This is in accord- 
ance with the ancient version ; but her face and figure are the 
least effective part of this fine picture. 

In a beautiful small composition, a print, attributed to 
Albert Dlirer, there are only three figures. Joseph of Arima- 


thea stands on a ladder, and detaches from the cross the dead 
form of the Saviour, who is received into the arms of his Mother. 
This is a form of the Hater Dolorosa which is very uncom- 
mon, and must be regarded as exceptional and ideal, unless we 
are to consider it as a study and an incomplete group. 

The Deposition is properly that moment which succeeds 
the Descent from the Cross ; when the dead form of Christ is 
deposed or laid upon the ground, resting on the lap of his 
Mother, and lamented by St. John, the Magdalene, and others. 
The ideal and devotional form of this subject, styled a Pieta, 
may be intended to represent one of those festivals of the Pas- 
sion Week which commemorate the participation of the holy 
Virgin Mother in the sufferings of her Son. 1 I have already 
spoken at length of this form of the Mater Dolorosa ; the his- 
torical version of the same subject is what we have now to 
consider, but only so far as regards the figure of the Virgin. 

In a Deposition thus dramatically treated there are always 
from four to six or eight figures. The principal group consists 
of the dead Saviour and his Mother. She generally holds him 
embraced, or bends over him contemplating his dead face, or 
lays her cheek to his with an expression of unutterable grief 
and love : in the antique conception she is generally fainting ; 
the insensibility, the sinking of the whole frame through grief, 
which in the Crucifixion is misplaced, both in regard to the 
religious feeling and the old tradition, is here quite proper. 2 
Thus she appears in the genuine Greek and Greco-Italian pro- 
ductions of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, as well as 
in the two finest examples that could be cited in more modern 

1. In an exquisite composition by Raphael, usually styled a 
Pieta, but properly a Deposition, there are six figures ; the 
extended form of Christ ; the Virgin swooning in the arms of 
Mary Salome and Mary Cleophas ; Mary Magdalene sustains 

1 "C'est ce que Ton a jugc h propos d'appeler La Compassion de la Vierge, 
autrement Notre Dome de Pitte. 1 ' Vide Baillet, Les Fetes Mobiles. 

2 The reason given is curious: " Perch & quando Gesu pareva tormentato 
essendo vivo, il dolore si partiva fra la santissima madre e ltd ; ma quando poi 
egli era morto, tutto il dolore rimaneva per la sconsolata madre." [Because 
when Jesus appeared suffering, while still living, the pain was divided between 
the holy mother and him ; but when he was dead, all the pain remained with 
the unhappy mother.] 



the feet of Christ, while her sister Martha raises the veil of 
the Virgin, as if to give her air ; St. John stands by with 
clasped hands ; and Joseph of Arimathea looks on the sorrow- 
ing group with mingled grief and pity. 1 

2. Another, an admirable and celebrated composition by 
Annibal Caracci, known as the four Maries, omits Martha and 
St. John. The attention of Mary Magdalene is tixed on the 
dead Saviour; the other two Maries are occupied by the 
fainting Mother. (Castle Howard.) On comparing this with 
Raphael's conception, we lind more of common nature, quite 

Group from Deposition (Perugino) 

as much pathos, but in the forms less of that pure poetic grace, 
which softens at once, and heightens the tragic effect. 

Besides Joseph of Arimathea, we have sometimes Nicode- 
mus ; as in the very fine Deposition by Perugino [in the Pitti, 
Florence], and in one, not less fine, by Albert Diirer. In a Dep- 
osition by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Lazarus, whom Jesus raised 
from the dead, stands near his sister Martha. 

In a picture by Tandy ck [Liechtenstein, Vienna], the Mother 
closes the eyes of the dead Kedeemer : in a picture by Rubens, 

1 [The picture described is a drawing in the Louvre, and is a study for the 
Entombment in the Borghese Gallery, Koine.] 


she removes a thorn from his wounded brow, — both natural 
and dramatic incidents very characteristic of these dramatic 

There are some fine examples of this subject in the old Ger- 
man school. In spite of ungraceful forms, quaint modern 
costumes, and worse absurdities, we often find motifs, unknown 
in the Italian school, most profoundly felt, though not always 
happily expressed. I remember several instances in which 
the Madonna does not sustain her Son ; but kneeling on one 
side, and with clasped hands, she gazes on him with a look, 
partly of devotion, partly of resignation ; both the devotion 
and the resignation predominating over the maternal grief. I 
have been asked, " why no painter has ever yet represented 
the Great Mother as raising her hands in thankfulness that her 
Son had drunk the cup — had finished the work appointed for 
him on earth ? " This would have been worthy of the religious 
significance of the moment ; and I recommend the theme to 
the consideration of artists. In the most modern Deposition 
I have seen (one of infinite beauty and new in arrangement, 
by Paul Delaroche), the Virgin, kneeling' at some distance, and 
a little above, contemplates her dead Son. The expression 
and attitude are those of intense anguish, and only anguish. 
It is the bereaved Mother ; it is a craving desolation, which is 
in the highest degree human and tragic ; but it is not the truly 
religious conception. 

The Entombment follows, and when , treated as a strictly 
historical scene, the Virgin Mother is always introduced, though 
here as a less conspicuous figure, and one less important to the 
action. Either she swoons, which is the ancient Greek con- 
ception : or she follows, with streaming eyes and clasped hands, 
the pious disciples who bear the dead form of her Son, as in 
Kaphael's wonderful picture in the Borghese Palace, and 
Titian's, hardly less beautiful, in the Louvre, where the com- 
passionate Magdalene sustains her veiled and weeping figure ; 
or she stands by, looking on disconsolate, while the beloved 
Son is laid in the tomb. 

All these fine and important themes belong properly to a 
series of the History of Christ. In a series of the Life of the 
Virgin, the incidents of the Passion of our Lord are generally 


omitted ; whereas, in the cycle of subjects styled the Rosary, 
the Bearing of the Cross, the Crucifixion, and the Deposition 
are included in the fourth and fifth of the " Sorrowful Mys- 
teries." Their frequency as separate subjects, and the pre- 
eminence given to the figure of the Virgin as the Mother of 
Pity, are very suggestive and affecting when we come to con- 
sider their intention as well as their significance. For, in the 
first place, they were in most instances the votive offerings of 
those who had lost the being most dear to them, and thus 
appealed to the divine compassion of her who had felt that 
sword " pierce through her own heart also." In this sense 
they were often suspended as memorials in the chapels ded- 
icated to the dead, of which I will cite one very beautiful 
and touching example. There is a votive Deposition by 
Giottino, in which the general conception is that which be- 
longed to the school, and very like Giotto's Deposition in the 
Arena at Padua. The dead Christ is extended on a white 
shroud, and embraced by the Virgin ; at his feet kneels the 
Magdalene, with clasped hands and flowing hair ; Mary Salome 
kisses one of his hands, and Martha (as I suppose) the other ; 
the third Mary, with long hair, and head drooping with grief, 
is seated in front to the right. In the background, in the 
centre, stands St. John, bending over the group in profound 
sorrow ; on his left hand Joseph of Arimathea stands with 
the vase of " spices and ointments," and the nails ; near him 
Nicodemus. On the right of St. John kneels a beautiful 
young girl, in the rich Florentine costume, who, with a sor- 
rowful earnestness and with her hands crossed over her bosom, 
contemplates the dead Saviour. St. Romeo (or San Remigio) 
patron of the church in which the picture was dedicated, lays 
his hand paternally on her head ; beside her kneels a Benedic- 
tine nun, who in the same manner is presented by St. Bene- 
dict. These two females, sisters, perhaps, are the bereaved 
mourners who dedicated the picture, certainly one of the finest 
of the Giottesque school. 1 (Uffizi, Florence.) 

Secondly, we find that the associations left in the minds of 
the people by the expeditions of the crusaders and the pil- 

1 [The authorship of this picture has excited much discussion. Von Rumohr 
assigns it to Piero Chelini, Professor Milanesi to Masodi Banco, a painter whose 
name has heen confused with that of Giottino. For full discussion of the subject 
see Crowe and Cavalcaselle, History of Painting in Italy, vol. i. p. 416.J 


grimages to the Holy Sepulchre rendered the Deposition and 
the Entombment particularly popular and impressive as sub- 
jects of Art, even down to a late period. " Ce que la vaillante 
epde des ayeux avait glorieusement ddfendu, le ciseau des enfans 
aimait a le reproduire, leur pie'te' h l'honorer." I think we 
may trace these associations in many examples, particularly in 
a Deposition by Raphael, of which there is a fine old engrav- 
ing. Here, in the centre, stands a circular building, such as 
the church at Jerusalem was always described ; in front of 
which are seen the fainting Virgin and the mournful women ; 
a grand and solemn group, but poetically rather than histori- 
cally treated. 

In conclusion, I must notice one more form of the Mater 
Dolorosa, one of the dramatic conceptions of the later schools 
of Art : as far as I know, there exist no early examples. 

In a picture by Guercino, the Virgin and St. Peter lament 
the death of the Saviour. The Mother, with her clasped hands 
resting on her knees, appears lost in resigned sorrow ; she mourns 
her Son. Peter, weeping as with a troubled grief, seems to 
mourn at once his Lord and Master and his own weak denial. 
This picture has the energetic feeling and utter want of poetic 
elevation which generally characterized Guercino. (Louvre. 1 ) 

There is a similar group by Ludovico Caracci in the Duomo 
at Bologna. 

In a picture by Tiarini, the Madre Addolorata is seated, 
holding in her hand the crown of thorns ; Mary Magdalene 
kneels before her, and St. John stands by — both expressing 
the utmost veneration and sympathy. These and similar 
groups are especially to be found in the later Bologna school. 
In all the instances known to me, they have been painted for 
the Dominicans, and evidently intended to illustrate the sor- 
rows of the Rosary. [Bologna.] 

In one of the services of the Passion Week, and in particu- 
lar reference to the maternal anguish of the Virgin, it was 
usual to read, as the Epistle, a selection from the first chapter 
of the Lamentations of Jeremiah, eloquent in the language of 
desolation and grief. The painters seemed to have filled their 
imagination with the images there presented ; and frequently 

1 [The picture is not mentioned in the list of Guercino's paintings in the 
Louvre catalogue of 1894.] 


in tlio ideal Virtu the daughter of Jerusalem " sits solitary, 
with none to comfort her." It is the contrary in the dramatic 
version ; the devotion of the women, the solicitude of the affec- 
tionate Magdalene, and the filial reverence of St. John, whom 
the scriptural history associates with the Virgin in a manner 
so affecting, are never forgotten. 

In ohedience to the last command of. his dying Master, John 
the Evangelist — 

He, into whose keeping, from the cross, 
The mighty charge was given — 

conducted to his own dwelling the Mother to whom he was 
henceforth to be as a son. This beautiful subject, "John 
conducting the Virgin to his home," was quite unknown, as 
far as I am aware, in the earlier schools of Art, and appears 
first in the seventeenth century. An eminent instance is a 
fine solemn group by Zurbaran. 1 (Munich.) Christ was laid 
in the sepulchre by night, and here, in the gray dawn, John 
and the veiled Virgin are seen as returning from the entomb- 
ment, and walking mournfully side by side. 

We find the peculiar relation between the Mother of Christ 
and St. John, as her adopted son, expressed in a very tender 
and ideal manner, on one of the wings of an altar-piece, at- 
tributed to Taddeo Gaddi. (Berlin Gallery.) Mary and St. 
John stand in front ; he holds one of her hands clasped in 
both his own, with a most reverent and affectionate expression. 
Christ, standing between them, lays one hand on the shoulder 
of each : the sentiment of this group is altogether very un- 
usual, and very remarkable. 

i [The work referred to is probahly the painting catalogued as the production 
of Francisco Ribalta.l 



The Apparition of Christ to his Mother 

The enthusiastic and increasing veneration for the Madonna, 
the large place she filled in the religious teaching of the ecclesi- 
astics and the religious sentiments of the people, are nowhere 
more apparent, nor more strikingly exhibited, than in the man- 
ner in which she was associated with the scenes which followed 
the Passion — the manner in which some incidents were sug- 
gested, and treated with a peculiar reference to her, and to her 
maternal feelings. It is nowhere said that the Virgin-mother 
was one of the Maries who visited the tomb on the morning 
of the resurrection, and nowhere is she so represented. But 
out of the human sympathy with that bereaved and longing 
heart arose the beautiful legend of the interview between 
Christ and his Mother after he had risen from the dead. 

There existed a very ancient tradition (it is mentioned by 
St. Ambrose in the fourth century, as being then generally ac- 
cepted by Christians), that Christ, after his return from Hades, 
visited his Mother, even before he appeared to Mary Magda- 
lene in the garden. It is not indeed so written in the Gospel ; 
but what of that ? The reasoning which led to the conclu- 
sion was very simple. He whose last earthly thought was for 
his Mother would not leave her without that consolation it was 
in his power to give ; and what, as a son, it was his duty to 
do (for the humanity of Christ is never forgotten by those who 
most intensely believed in his divinity), that, of course, he 
did do. 

The story is thus related : Mary, when all was " finished," 
retired to her chamber, and remained alone with her grief — not 
wailing, not repining, not hopeless, but waiting for the fulfil- 
ment of the promise. Open before her lay the volume of the 
prophecies; and she prayed earnestly, and she said, "Thou 
didst promise, my most dear Son ! that thou wouldst rise 
again on the third day. Before yesterday was the day of dark- 
ness and bitterness, and, behold, this is the third day. Return 


then to me thy Mother ; O my Son, tarry not, hut come ! " 
And while thus she prayed, lo ! a bright company of angels, 
who entered waving their palms and radiant with joy; and 
they surrounded her, kneeling and singing the triumphant 
Easter hymn, Regxna ( 'cell Itrttnr, Alleluia ! i And then came 
Christ, partly clothed in a white garment, having in his left 
hand the standard with the cross, as one just returned from the 
nether world, and victorious over the powers of sin and death. 
And with him came the patriarchs and prophets, whose long- 
imprisoned spirits he had released from Hades. All these 
knelt before the Virgin, and saluted her, and blessed her, and 
thanked her, because through her had come their deliverance. 
But, for all this, the Mother was not comforted till she had 
heard the voice of her Son. Then he, raising his hand in 
benediction, spoke, and said, " I salute thee, my Mother ! " 
and she, weeping tears of joy, responded, "Is it thou indeed, 
my most dear Son ? " and she fell upon his neck, and he em- 
braced her tenderly, and showed her the wounds he had re- 
ceived for sinful men. Then he bid her be comforted and weep 
no more, for the pain of death had passed away, and the gates 
of hell had not prevailed against him. And she thanked him 
meekly on her knees, for that he had been pleased to bring re- 
demption to man, and to make her the humble instrument of 
his great mercy. And they sat and talked together, until he 
took leave of her to return to the garden, and to show himself 
to Mary Magdalene, who, next to his glorious Mother, had 
most need of consolation. 2 

1 Regina Cocli lnetare, Alleluia! 
Quia quern meruisti portare, Alleluia! 
Resurrexit sicut dixit, Alleluia! 
Ora pro nobis Deum, Alleluia! 

2 I have £iven the legend from various sources; but there is something quite 
untranslatable and perfectly beautiful in the naivete of the old Italian ver- 
sion. After describing the celestial music of the angels, the rejoicing of the 
liberated patriarchs, and the appearance of Christ, allegro, e bello e tutto lucido, 
it thus proceeds: "Quando ella lo vidde, gli ando incontro ella ancora con le 
braccia aperte, e quasi tramortita per 1' allegrezza. II benedetto Gesii P abbrac- 
cio teneressimamente, ed ella gli disse; 'Ahi, figliuolo mio cordialissimo, sei tu 
veramente il mio Gesu, b pur m' inganna 1' affetto ! ' ' lo sono il tuo figliuolo, 
madre inia dolcissima,' disse il Signore: 'cessino hormai le tue lagrime, non 
fan- eh' io ti veda pit] di mala voglia. (Jin. son finiti li tuoi e li miei travagli e 
dolori insieme ! ' Erauo rimase alcune lagrime ne gli occhi della Vergine . . . 
e per la grande allegrezza non poteva proferire parola alcuna . . . ma quando 


The pathetic sentiment, and all the supernatural and mystical 
accompaniments of this beautiful myth of the early ages, have 
been very inadequately rendered by the artists. It is always 
treated as a plain matter-of-fact scene. The Virgin kneels ; 
the Saviour, bearing his standard, stands before her ; and where 
the delivered patriarchs are introduced, they are generally 
either Adam and Eve, the authors of the fall, or Abraham and 
David, the progenitors of Christ and the Virgin. The patri- 
archs are omitted in the earliest instance I can refer to, one of 
the carved panels of the stalls in the cathedral of Amiens, also 
in the composition by Albert Dlirer, not included in his Life 
of the Virgin, but forming one of the series of the Passion. 
Guido has represented the scene in a very fine picture, wherein 
an angel bears the standard of victory, and behind our Saviour 
are Adam and Eve. (Dresden Gallery.) 

Another example, by Guercino (cathedral, Cento), is cited 
by Goethe as an instance of that excellence in the expression 
of the natural and domestic affections which characterized the 
painter. Mary kneels before her Son, looking up in his face 
with unutterable affection ; he regards her with a calm, sad 
look, " as if within his noble soul there still remained the 
recollection of his suffering and hers, outliving the pangs of 
death, the descent into the grave, and which the resurrection 
had not yet dispelled." This, however, is not the sentiment, 
at once affectionate and joyously triumphant, of the old legend. 
I was pleased with a little picture in the Lichtenstein Gallery 
at Vienna, where the risen Saviour, standing before his Mother, 
points to the page of the book before her, as if he said, " See 
you not that thus it is written ? " (Luke xxiv. 46.) Behind 
Jesus is St. John the Evangelist bearing the cup and the cross, 
as the cup of sorrow and the cross of pain, not the mere em- 

la fine pote parlare, lo ringrazio per parte di tutto il genere humano, per la re- 
denzione, operata e fatta, per tutto generalmente." Vide II Perfetto Legendario. 
[When she saw him, she came to meet him with arms open and almost stunned 
with joy. The blessed Jesus embraced her most tenderly, and she said to him, 
" Ah, my most beloved Son, art thou truly my Jesus, or does love deceive me ! " 
"I am thy son, my sweetest mother," said the Lord : "Let your tears cease 
from this moment, let nothing grieve me in seeing you. Thy labors and suffer- 
ings and mine also are both ended." Some tears remained in the eyes of the 
Virgin ... and she was unable to speak a word for her great joy . . . but 
when at last she could speak, she thanked him in behalf of all the human race 
for the redemption, performed and fulfilled for all the world.] 



Christ appearing to his Mother (Albert Diirer) 

blems. There is another example, by one of the Caracci, in 
the Fitzwilliam collection at Cambridge. 

A picture by Albano of this subject, in which Christ comes 
flying or floating on the air, like an incorporeal being, sur- 
rounded by little fluttering cherubim, very much like Cupids, 
is an example of all that is most false and objectionable in feel- 
ing and treatment. (Pitti, Florence.) 

The popularity of this scene in the Bologna school of art 
arose, I think, from its being adopted as one of the subjects 
from the Rosary, the first of " the five Glorious Mysteries ; " 
therefore especially affected by the Dominicans, the great pa- 
trons of the Caracci at that time. 


The Ascension, though one of the " Glorious Mysteries/' 
was also accounted as the seventh and last of the sorrows 
of the Virgin, for she was then left alone on earth. All 
the old legends represent her as present on this occasion, and 
saying as she followed with uplifted eyes the soaring figure of 
Christ, " My Son, remember me when thou comest to thy 
kingdom ! leave me not long after thee, my Son ! " In Giotto's 
composition in the chapel of the Arena, at Padua, she is by far 
the most prominent figure. In almost all the late pictures of 
the Ascension, she is introduced with the other Maries, kneel- 
ing on one side, or placed in the centre among the apostles. 

The Descent of the Holy Ghost is a strictly scriptural 
subject. I have heard it said that the introduction of Mary 
was not authorized by the scripture narrative. I must observe, 
however, that, without any wringing of the text for an especial 
purpose, the passage might be so interpreted. In the first 
chapter of the Acts (ver. 14), after enumerating the. apostles 
by name, it is added, " These all continued with one accord in 
prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother 
of Jesus, and with his brethren." And in the commencement 
of the second chapter the narrative thus proceeds : " And when 
the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one 
accord in one place." The word all is, in the Concordance, 
referred to the previous text (ver. 14), as including Mary and 
the women : thus they who were constant in their love were 
not refused a participation in the gifts of the Spirit. Mary, 
in her character of the divine Mother of Wisdom, or even 
Wisdom herself, 1 did not, perhaps, need any accession of intel- 
lectual light ; but we must remember that the Holy Spirit was 
the Comforter as well as the giver of Wisdom ; therefore, 
equally needed by those, whether men or women, who were 
all equally called upon to carry out the ministry of Christ in 
love and service, in doing and in suffering. 

In the account of the apostles [Sacred and Legendary Art], 
I have already described at length the various treatment and 
most celebrated examples of this subject, and shall onl}' make 
one or two observations with especial reference to the figure 
of the Virgin. It was in accordance with the feelings and 

1 The sublime eulogium of Wisdom (Prov. viii.) is, in the Roman Catholic 
Church, applied to the Virgin Mary. 



yf a w m 

Descent of the Holy Ghost 

convictions prevalent in the fifteenth century, that if Mary- 
were admitted to be present, she would take the principal 
place, as Queen and Mother of the Apostles (Regina et Mater 
Apostolorum). She is, therefore, usually placed either in front, 
or in the centre on a raised seat or dais ; and often holding a 
book (as the Mater Sapientioi) ; and she receives the divine 
effusion either with veiled lids and meek rejoicing ; or with 
uplifted eyes, as one inspired, she pours forth the hymn, Veni, 
Sancte Spiritus. 

I agree with the critics that, as the Spirit descended in form 
of cloven tongues of fire, the emblem of the Dove, almost 
always introduced, is here superfluous, and, indeed, out .of 

I must mention here another subject altogether apocryphal, 
and confined to the late Spanish and Italian schools: the Vir- 
gin receives the sacramental wafer from the hand of St. John 
the Evangelist. This is frequently misunderstood, and styled 


the Communion of Mary Magdalene. But the long hair and 
uncovered head of the Magdalene and the episcopal rohe of 
St. Maximin are in general distinguishable from the veiled 
matronly head of the Virgin-mother and the deacon's vest of 
St. John. There is also a legend that Mary received baptism 
from St. Peter ; but this is a subject I have never met with in 
Art, ancient or modern. It may possibly exist. 

I am not acquainted with any representations taken from 
the sojourn on earth of the Blessed Virgin from this time to 
the period of her death, the date of which is uncertain. It is, 
however, generally supposed to have taken place in the forty- 
eighth year of our era, and about eleven years after the Cruci- 
fixion, therefore in her sixtieth year. There is no distinct 
record, either historical or legendary, as to the manner in 
which she passed these years. There are, indeed, floating tra- 
ditions alluded to by the early theological writers, that when 
the first persecution broke out at Jerusalem, Mary accompanied 
St. John the Evangelist to Ephesus, and was attended thither 
by the faithful and affectionate Mary Magdalene. Also that 
she dwelt for some time on Mount Carmel, in an oratory 
erected there by the prophet Elijah, and hence became the 
patroness of the Carmelites, under the title of Our Lady of 
Mount Carmel (La Madonna del Carmine or del Carmelo). 
If there exist any creations of the artists founded on these 
obscure traditions, which is indeed most probable, particularly 
in the edifices of the Carmelites in Spain, I have not met with 

It is related that before the apostles separated to obey the 
command of their divine Master, and preach the gospel to all 
the nations of the earth, they took a solemn leave of the Vir- 
gin Mary, and received her blessing. This subject has been 
represented, though not by any distinguished artist. I remem- 
ber such a picture, apparently of the sixteenth century, in the 
church of S. Maria-in-Capitolio at Cologne, and another, by 
Bissoni, in the S. Giustina at Padua. 

the death and assumption of the virgin 335 

The Death and Assumption of the Virgin 

Lat. Dormitio, Pausatio, Transit us, Asstini])tio, 15. Virginia. Ital. 
II Transitu di Maria. II Sonno della Beata Virgine. 1/ Assun- 
aione. Fr. La Mort de la Vierge. L'Aaaomption. Ger. Das 
Abaterben der Maria. Maria Himmelfahrt. (August 1:}, 15.) 

We approach the closing scenes. 

Of all the representations consecrated to the glory of the 
Virgin, none have heen more popular, more multiplied through 
every form of Art, and more admirably treated, than her death 
and apotheosis. The latter in particular, under the title of the 
" Assumption," became the visible expression of a dogma of 
faith then universally received — namely, the exaltation and 
deification of the Virgin in the body as well as in the spirit. 
As such it meets us at every turn in the edifices dedicated to 
her ; in painting over the altar, in sculpture over the portal, 
or gleaming upon us in light from the shining many-colored 
windows. Sometimes the two subjects are combined, and the 
death -scene (II Transito di Maria) figured below, is, in fact, 
only the transition to the blessedness and exaltation figured 
above. But whether separate or combined, the two scenes, in 
themselves most beautiful and touching — the extremes of the 
mournful and the majestic — the dramatic and the ideal — 
offered to the mediaeval artists such a breadth of space for the 
exhibition of feeling and fancy as no other subject afforded. 
Consequently, among the examples handed down to us, are to 
be found some of the most curious and important relics of the 
early schools, while others rank among the grandest productions 
of the best ages of art. 

For the proper understanding of these, it is necessary to 
give the old apocryphal legend at some length ; for, although 
the very curious and extravagant details of this legend were 
not authorized by the Church as matters of fact or faith, it 
is clear that the artists were permitted thence to derive their 
materials and their imagery. In what manner they availed 
themselves of this permission, and how far the wildly poeti- 
cal circumstances with which the old tradition was gradually 
invested were allowed to enter into the forms of Art, we shall 
afterwards consider. 



The Legend of the Death and Assumption of the 
most Glorious Virgin Mary 

Mary dwelt in the house of John upon Mount Sion, look- 
ing for the fulfilment of the promise of deliverance ; and she 
spent her days in visiting those places which had been hal- 
lowed by the baptism, the sufferings, the burial, and resurrec- 
tion of her divine Son, but more particularly the tomb wherein 
he was laid. And she did not this as seeking the living 
among the dead, but for consolation and for remembrance. 

And on a certain day, the heart of the Virgin, being filled 
with an inexpressible longing to behold her Son, melted away 
within her, and she wept abundantly. And, lo ! an angel 
appeared before her clothed in light as with a garment. And 
he saluted her, and said, " Hail, Mary ! blessed by him who 
hath given salvation to Israel ! I bring thee here a branch of 
palm gathered in Paradise ; command that it be carried before 
thy bier in the day of thy death ; for in three days thy soul 
shall leave thy body, and thou shalt enter into Paradise, where 
thy Son awaits thy coming." Mary, answering, said, " If I 
have found grace in thy eyes, tell me first what is thy name ; 
and grant that the apostles my brethren may be reunited to 
me before I die, that in their presence I may give up my soul 
to God. Also, I pray thee, that my soul, when delivered from 
my body, may not be affrighted by any spirit of darkness, nor 
any evil angel be allowed to have any power over me." And 
the angel said, " Why dost thou ask my name ? My name is 
the Great and the Wonderful. And now doubt not that all 
the apostles shall be reunited to thee this day ; for he who in 
former times transported the prophet Habakkuk from Judea 
to Jerusalem by the hair of his head, can as easily bring hither 
the apostles. And fear thou not the evil spirit, for hast thou 
not bruised his head and destroyed his kingdom ? " And 
having said these words, the angel departed into heaven ; and 
the palm branch which he had left behind him shed light from 
every leaf, and sparkled as the stars of the morning. Then 
Mary lighted the lamps and prepared her bed, and waited 
until the hour was come. And in the same instant John, who 
was preaching at Ephesus, and Peter, who was preaching at 
Antioch, and all the other apostles, who were dispersed in 
different parts of the world, were suddenly caught up as by a 


miraculous power, and found themselves before the door of 
the habitation of Mary. When Mary saw them all assembled 
round her, she blessed and thanked the Lord, and she placed 
in the hands of St. John the shining palm, and desired that 
lie should bear it before her at the time of her burial. Then 
Mary, kneeling down, made her prayer to the Lord her Son, 
and the others prayed with her ; then she laid herself down in 
her bed and composed herself for death. And John wept bit- 
terly. And about the third hour of the night, as Peter stood 
at the head of the bed and John at the foot, and the other 
apostles around, a mighty sound tilled the house, and a deli- 
cious perfume tilled the chamber. And Jesus himself appeared 
accompanied by an innumerable company of angels, patriarchs, 
and prophets ; all these surrounded the bed of the Virgin, 
singing hymns of joy. And Jesus said to his mother, " Arise, 
my beloved, mine elect ! come with me from Lebanon, my 
espoused ! receive the crown that is destined for thee ! " And 
Mary, answering, said, " My heart is ready ; for it was written 
of me that I should do thy will ! " Then all the angels and 
blessed spirits who accompanied Jesus began to sing and re- 
joice. And the soul of Mary left her body, and was received 
into the arms of her Son, and together they ascended into 
heaven. 1 And the apostles looked up, saying, " most pru- 
dent Virgin, remember us when thou contest to glory ! " and 
the angels who received her into heaven sang these words, 
" Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness leaning 
upon her Beloved ? she is fairer than all the daughters of 
Jerusalem. " 

But the body of Mary remained upon the earth ; and three 
among the virgins prepared to wash and cloth it in a shroud ; 
but such a glory of light surrounded her form, that though 
they touched it they could not see it, and no human eye be- 
held those chaste and sacred limbs unclothed. Then the 

1 In the later French legend, it is the angel Michael who takes charge of the 
departing soul. " Ecce Dominus venit cum multitudine anr/elonim ; et Jrsus- 
Christ vint en grande compaignie d'anges; entre lesquels estoit Sainct Michel, 
et quand la Vierge Marie le veit elle dit, ' Henoist soit Jesus-Christ car il ne m'a 
pasoubliee.' Quand elle eat ce dit elle rendit I 'esprit, lequel Sainct Michel print." 
[Behold the Lord came with a hoet of angels; and Jesus Christ came with a 
great company of angels, among whom was St. Michael; and when the Virgin 
Mary saw him, she said " Ulessed he Jesus Christ, for he has not forgotten me." 
When she had said this, she gave up her spirit, which Saint Michael took.] 


apostles took her up reverently and placed her upon a bier, and 
John, carrying the celestial palm, went before. Peter sang 
the 114th Psalm, " In exitu Israel de Egypto, domus Jacob de 
populo barbaro," and the angels followed after, also singing. 
The wicked Jews, hearing these melodious voices, ran together ; 
and the high priest, being seized with fury, laid his hands upon 
the bier intending to overturn it on the earth ; but both his 
arms were suddenly dried up, so that he could not move them, 
and he was overcome with fear ; and he prayed to St. Peter 
for help, and Peter said, " Have faith in Jesus Christ, and his 
Mother, and thou shalt be healed ; " and it was so. Then 
they went on and laid the Virgin in a tomb in the Valley of 
Jehoshaphat. 1 

And on the third day, Jesus said to the angels, "What 
honor shall I confer on her who was my mother on earth, 
and brought me forth?" And they answered, "Lord, suffer 
not that body which was thy temple and thy dwelling to see 
corruption; but place her beside thee on thy throne in 
heaven." And Jesus consented ; and the Archangel Michael 
brought unto the Lord the glorious soul of our Lady. And 
the Lord said, " Eise up, my dove, my undefiled, for thou shalt 
not remain in the darkness of the grave, nor shalt thou see 
corruption ; " and immediately the soul of Mary rejoined her 
body, and she arose up glorious from the tomb, and ascended 
into heaven surrounded and welcomed by troops of angels, 
blowing their silver trumpets, touching their golden lutes, 
singing, and rejoicing as they sang, "Who is she that looketh 
forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and 
terrible as an army with banners ? " (Cant. vi. 10.) 

But one among the apostles was absent ; and when he ar- 
rived, soon after, he would not believe in the resurrection of 
the Virgin ; and this apostle was the same Thomas who had 
formerly been slow to believe in the resurrection of the Lord ; 
and he desired that the tomb should be opened before him; 
and when it was opened it was found to be full of lilies and 
roses. Then Thomas, looking up to heaven, beheld the Vir- 
gin bodily, in a glory of light, slowly mounting towards heaven ; 
and she, for the assurance of his faith, flung down to him 

1 Or Gethjemane. I must observe here, that in the genuine oriental legend, 
it is Michael the Archangel who hews off the hands of the audacious Jew, which 
were afterwards, at the intercession of St. Peter, reunited to his body. 


her girdle, the same 
which is to this day 
preserved in the cathe- 
dral at Prato. And 
there were present at 
the death of the Vir- 
gin Mary, besides the 
twelve apostles, Diony- 
sins the Areopagite, 
Timothens, and Hier- 
otheus ; and of the wo- 
men, Mary Salome, 
Mary Cleophas, 1 and 
a faithful handmaid 
whose name was Savia. 

This legend of the 
Death and Assumption 
of the Virgin has af- 
forded to the artists 
seven distinct scenes. 

1. The Angel, bear- 
ing the palm, announces 
to Mary her approaching Death, The announcing angel is 
usually supposed to he Gabriel, but it is properly Michael, 
" the angel of death." 2. She takes leave of the Apostles. 
3. Her Death. 4. She is borne to the Sepulchre. 5. Her 
Entombment. 6. Her Assumption, where she rises triumphant 
and glorious, " like unto the morning " (quasi aurora con- 
surgens). 7. Her Coronation in heaven, where she takes her 
place beside her Son. 

In early Art, particularly in the Gothic sculpture, two or 
more of these subjects are generally grouped together. Some- 
times we have the death-scene and the entombment on a line 
below, and, above these, the coronation or the assumption, as 
over the portal of Xotre Dame at Paris, and in many other 
instances ; or we have first her death, above this her assump- 
tion, and, above all, her coronation; as over the portal at 
Amiens and elsewhere. 

1 According to the Erench legend, Mary Magdalene and her sister Martha 
were also present 

Angel announcing to the Virgin her approach- 
ing Death (Orcagna) 


I shall now take these subjects in their order. 

The Angel announcing to Mary her approaching 
Death has been rarely treated. In general, Mary is seated 
or standing, and the angel kneels before her, bearing the starry 
palm brought from Paradise. In the frescoes at Orvieto, and 
in the bas-relief of Orcagna, on the beautiful shrine in Or 
San Michele, at Florence, the angel comes flying downwards 
with the palm. In the next sketch, which is from a predella 
by Fra Filippo Lippi [in the Florence Academy], the angel 

Angel announcing to the Virgin her approaching Death (Filippo Lippi) 

kneels, reverently presenting a taper, which the Virgin receives 
with majestic grace ; St. Peter stands behind. It was the 
custom to place a taper in the hand of a dying person ; and 
as the palm is also given sometimes to the angel of the incar- 
nation, while the taper can have but one meaning, the sig- 
nificance of the scene is here fixed beyond the possibility of 
mistake, though there is a departure from the literal details 
of the old legend. The predella belongs properly to the great 
altar-piece by Fra Filippo Lippi, now in the Louvre, and for- 


merly in the S. Spirito at Florence. In the original composi- 
tion we see the miraculous assemblage of the Apostles; Peter 
is entering at the door, and the others, conducted by angels, 
are entering the portico behind the Virgin. (In the catalogue 
it is called The Annuneiationj which is a mistake.) On one 
side of this subject we have the vision of the Trinity appearing 
to St. Gregory Thanmaturgns, and on the other, St. Frediano 
turning the course of the Serchio, both of whom were Angus- 
tins, to which Order the church of the S. Spirito belongs, and 
these are probably the two saints (called in the French cata- 
logue "deux saints dveques") who are kneeling in front of 
the grand picture in the Louvre. This is one of many in- 
stances in which the separation of the parts of an altar-piece 
becomes a source of embarrassment to the critic and anti- 
quary. These " deux saints e'veques " were a great vexation 
to me till I found the predella of the altar at Florence. There 
is in the Munich Gallery a curious German example of the 
subject [of the angel announcing to Mary her approaching 
death] by Hans Schaufelein. 

The Death of the Virgin is styled in Byzantine and 
old Italian Art the Sleep of the Virgin, II Sonno delta Ma- 
donna ; for it was an old superstition, subsequently rejected as 
heretical, that she did not really die after the manner of com- 
mon mortals, only fell asleep till her resurrection. Therefore, 
perhaps, it is, that in the early pictures we have before us, not 
so much a scene or action, as a sort of mysterious rite ; it is 
not the Virgin dead or dying in her bed ; she only slumbers 
in preparation for her entombment ; while in the later pic- 
tures, we have a death-bed scene with all the usual dramatic 
and pathetic accessories. 

In one sense or the other, the theme has been constantly 
treated, from the earliest ages of the revival of Art down to 
the seventeenth century. 

In the most ancient examples which are derived from the 
Greek school, it is always represented with a mystical and 
solemn simplicity, adhering closely to the old legend, and to 
the formula laid down in the Greek Manual. 

There is such a picture in the Walleretein collection at Ken- 
sington Palace [now dispersed]. The couch or bier is in the 
centre of the picture, and Mary lies upon it wrapped in a veil 


and mantle with closed eyes and hands crossed over her bosom. 
The twelve apostles stand round in attitudes of grief ; angels 
attend bearing tapers. Behind the extended form of the Virgin 
is the figure of Christ ; a glorious red seraph with expanded 
wings hovers above his head. ' He holds in his arms the soul 
of the Virgin in the likeness of a new-born child. On each side 
stand St. Dionysius the Areopagite, and St. Timothy, bishop 
of Ephesus, in episcopal robes. In front the archangel 
Michael bends forward to strike off the hands of the high 
priest Adonijah, who had attempted to profane the bier. (This 
last circumstance is rarely expressed, except in the Byzantine 
pictures ; for in the Italian legend the hands of the intruder 
wither and adhere to the bed or shrine.) In the picture just de- 
scribed, all is at once simple, and formal, and solemn, and 
supernatural ; it is a very perfect example, in its way, of the 
genuine Byzantine treatment. There is a similar picture in 
the Christian Museum of the Vatican. 

Another (the date about the first half of the fourteenth 
century, as I think) is curious from the introduction of the 
women. (Collection of Mr. Bromley of Wootten. 1 ) The Vir- 
gin lies on an embroidered sheet held reverently by angels ; 
at the feet and at the head other angels bear tapers ; Christ 
receives the departing soul, which stretches out its arms ; St. 
John kneels in front, and St. Peter reads the service ; the 
other apostles are behind him, and there are three women. 
The execution of this curious picture is extremely rude, but 
the heads very fine. Cimabue painted the Death of the Vir- 
gin at Assisi. There is a beautiful example by Giotto, where 
two lovely angels stand at the head and two at the feet, sus- 
taining the pall on which she lies ; another most exquisite by 
Angelico in the Florence Gallery ; another most beautiful and 
pathetic by Taddeo Bartoli in the Palazzo Pubblico at Siena 
[one of the series on the Death of the Virgin, described in 
the Introduction]. 

The custom of representing Christ as standing by the couch 
or tomb of his mother, in the act of receiving her soul, con- 
tinued down to the fifteenth century, at least with slight devi- 
ations from the original conception. The later treatment is 
quite different. The solemn mysterious sleep, the transition 
from one life to another became a familiar death-bed scene 
1 [The Bromley collection was sold in 18G3.] 


Death of the Virgin (Albert Durer) 

with the usual moving accompaniments. But even while 
avoiding the supernatural incidents, the Italians gave to the 
representation much ideal elegance ; for instance, in the beau- 
tiful fresco by Ghirlandajo, in the series at S. Maria Novella, 

In the old German school we have that homely matter-of- 
fact feeling and dramatic expression, and defiance of all chron- 


ological propriety, which belonged to the time and school. 
The composition by Albert Diirer, in his series of the Life of 
the Virgin, has great beauty and simplicity of expression, and 
in the arrangement a degree of grandeur and repose which has 
caused it to be often copied and reproduced as a picture, though 
the original form is merely that of a woodcut. 1 In the cen- 
tre is a bedstead with a canopy, on which Mary lies fronting 
the spectator, her eyes half closed. On the left of the bed 
stands St. Peter, habited as a bishop ; he places a taper in her 
dying hand ; another apostle holds the asperge with which to 
sprinkle her with holy water ; another reads the service. In the 
foreground is a priest bearing a cross, and another with incense ; 
and on the right, the other apostles in attitudes of devotion 
and grief. 

Another picture by Albert Dlirer, once in the Fries Gallery 
at Vienna, unites, in a most remarkable manner, all the le- 
gendary and supernatural incidents with the most intense and 
homely reality. It appears to have been painted for the Em- 
peror Maximilian as a tribute to the memory of his first wife, 
the interesting Maria of Burgundy. The disposition of the 
bed is the same as in the woodcut, the foot towards the spec- 
tator. The face of the dying Virgin is that of the young 
duchess. On the right, her son, afterwards Philip of Spain 
and father of Charles V., stands as the young St. John, and 
presents the taper; the other apostles are seen around, most 
of them praying ; St. Peter, habited as bishop, reads from an 
open book (this is the portrait of George a Zlatkonia, bishop 
of Vienna, the friend and counsellor of Maximilian) ; behind 
him, as one of the apostles, Maximilian himself, with head 
bowed down as in sorrow. Three ecclesiastics are seen enter- 
ing by an open door, bearing the cross, the censer, and the 
holy water. Over the bed is seen the figure of Christ ; in his 
arms, the soul of the Virgin, in likeness of an . infant with 
clasped hands ; and above all, in an opening glory and like a 
vision, her reception and coronation in heaven. Upon a scroll 
over her head, are the words, "Surge, propera, arnica mea; 
veni de Libano, veni ; coronaberis." (Cant. iv. 8.) Three 
among the hovering angels bear scrolls, on one of which is in- 
scribed the text from the Canticles, "Quae est ista quae progre- 

1 There is one such copy in the Sutherland Gallery ; and another in the Mu* 
nich Gallery. 


ditui quad aurora eonsurgens, pulehra ut luna, electa ut sol, 
terribilis ut castrorum acies ordinata ? M (Cant. vi. 10) ; on 
another, " Qua 1 est ista qua ascendit de deserto deliciis affluens 
super dilectuiu suum ? ' , (Cant. viii. 5) ; and on the third, 
u Qua3 est ista quae ascendit super dilectum suum ut virgula 
funii ? M (Cant. iii. 6.) This picture bears the date 1518. If 
it be true, as is, indeed, most apparent, that it was painted by 
order of Maximilian nearly forty years after the loss of the 
young wife he so tenderly loved, and only one year before his 
own death, there is something very touching in it as a memo- 
rial. The ingenious and tender compliment implied by making 
Mary of Burgundy the real object of those mystic texts con- 
secrated to the glory of the Mater Dei, verges, perhaps, on 
the profane ; but it was not so intended ; it was merely that 
combination of the pious and the poetical and the sentimental 
which was one of the characteristics of the time, in literature, 
as well as in Art. 1 

The picture by Jan Scorel, one of the great ornaments of 
the Boisserde Gallery 2 (Munich), is remarkable for its intense 
reality and splendor of color. The heads are full of character ; 
that of the Virgin in particular, who seems, with half-closed 
eyes, in act to breathe away her soul in rapture. The altar 
near the bed, having on it figures of Moses and Aaron, is, how- 
ever, a serious fault and incongruity in this fine painting. 3 

I must observe that Mary is not always dead or dying ; she 
is sometimes preparing for death, in the act of prayer at the 
foot of her couch, with the apostles standing round, as in a 
very fine picture by Martin Schaffner (Munich), where she 
kneels with a lovely expression, sustained in the arms of St. 
John, while St. Peter holds the gospel open before her. 
Sometimes she is sitting up in her bed, and reading from the 
Book of the Scripture, which is always held by St. Peter. 

In a picture by Cola dell' Amatrice, the Death of the Virgin 
is treated at once in a mystical and dramatic style. Enveloped 
in a dark blue mantle spangled with golden stars, she lies 
extended on a couch ; St. Peter, in a splendid scarlet cope as 

1 Heller's Albreckt Diirer, p. 261. 

2 The admirable lithograph by Strixner is well known. 

3 [The Munich gallery contains several pictures of the Death of Mary, hut 
not any are attributed in the current (1894) oflicial catalogue to the masters here 


bishop, reads the service ; St. John, holding the palm, weeps 
bitterly. In . front, and kneeling before the couch or bier, 
appear the three great Dominican saints as witnesses of the 
religious mystery ; in the centre, St. Dominick ; on the left, 
St. Catherine of Siena ; and on the right, St. Thomas Aquinas. 
In a compartment above is the Assumption. (Rome, Capitol.) 

Among the later Italian examples, where the old legendary 
accessories are generally omitted, there are some of peculiar 
elegance. One by Ludovico Caracci, another by Domenichino, 
and a third by Carlo Maratti, are treated, if not with much of 
poetry or religious sentiment, yet with great dignity and 

I must mention one more, because of its history and celeb- 
rity : Caravaggio, of whom it was said that he always painted 
like a ruffian, because he was a ruffian, was also a genius in 
his way, and for a few months he became the fashion at Rome, 
and was even patronized by some of the higher ecclesiastics. 
He painted for the church of La Scala in Trastevere a picture 
of the death of the Virgin, wonderful for the intense natural 
expression, and in the same degree grotesque from its impro- 
priety. Mary, instead of being decently veiled, lies extended 
with long scattered hair ; the strongly-marked features and 
large proportions of 'the figure are those of a woman of the 
Trastevere. The face has a swollen look, and it was said that 
his model had been a common woman whose features were 
swelled by intoxication. The apostles stand around ; one or 
two of them — I must use the word — blubber aloud : Peter 
thrusts his fists into his eyes to keep back the tears ; a woman 
seated in front cries and sobs ; nothing can be more real, nor 
more utterly vulgar. The ecclesiastics for whom the picture 
was executed were so scandalized that they refused to hang it 
up in their church. It was purchased by the Duke of Mantua, 
and, with the rest of the Mantuan Gallery, came afterwards 
into the possession of our unfortunate Charles I. On the dis- 
persion of his pictures it found its way into the Louvre, where 
it now is. It has been often engraved. 

The Apostles carry the body of the Virgin to the 
tomb. This is a very uncommon subject. There is a most 
beautiful example by Taddeo Bartolo (Siena, Palazzo Pubblico) 
full of profound religious feeling. There is a small engraving 


by Bonasone, in a scries of the Life of the Virgin, apparently 
after Parmigiano, in which the apostles bear her on their 
shoulders over rocky ground, and appear to be descending into 
the Valley of Jehoshaphai : underneath are these lines: — 

Portaii ^li Bominj Bant] in su le spalle 
Al Sepolero il corpo di Maria 
Di Josaphat Delia famota valle. 

There is another picture of this subject by Ludovico Caracci, 
at Parma. 

The Entombment, In the early pictures there is little 
distinction between this subject and the death of the Virgin. 
If the figure of Christ stand over the recumbent form, holding 
in his arms the emancipated soul, then it is the Transito — 
the death or sleep ; but when a sarcophagus is in the centre of 
the picture, and the body lies extended above it on a sort of 
sheet or pall held by angels or apostles, it may be determined 
that it is the Entombment of the Virgin after her death. In 
a small and very beautiful picture by Angelico we have dis- 
tinctly this representation. She lies, like one asleep, on a 
white pall, held reverently by the mourners. They prepare 
to lay her in a marble sarcophagus. St. John, bearing the 
starry palm, appears to address a man in a doctor's cap and 
gown, evidently intended for Dionysius the Areopagite. Above, 
in the sky, the soul of the Virgin, surrounded by most graceful 
angels, is received into heaven. This group is distinguished 
from the group below by being painted in a dreamy bluish 
tint, like solidified light, or like a vision. [Once] in the pos- 
session of W. Fuller Maitland, 1 Esq. Engraved in the " Etru- 
ria Pittrice." 

The Assumption. The old painters distinguished between 
the Assumption of the soul and the Assumption of the body 
of the Virgin. In the first instance, at the moment the soul 
is separated from her body, Christ receives it into his keeping, 
standing in person either beside her death-bed or above it. 
But in the Assumption properly so called, we have the moment 
wherein the soul of the Virgin is reunited to her body, which, 
at the command of Christ, rises up from the tomb. Of all 
the themes of sacred Art, there is not one more complete and 
1 [The Fuller Maitland collection was dispersed by a sale in 1879.] 


beautiful than this, in what it represents, and in what it sug- 
gests. Earth and its sorrows, death and the grave, are left 
below ; and the pure spirit of the Mother, again clothed in its 
unspotted tabernacle, surrounded by angelic harmonies, and 
sustained by wings of cherubim and seraphim, soars upwards to 
meet her Son, and to be reunited to him forever. 

We must consider this fine subject under two aspects. 

The first is purely ideal and devotional ; • it is simply the 
expression of a dogma of faith, Assumpta est Maria Virgo 
in Ccelum. The figure of the Virgin is seen within an almond- 
shaped aureole (the mandorla), not unfrequently crowned as 
well as veiled, her hands joined, her white robe falling round 
her feet (for in all the early pictures the dress of the Virgin is 
white, often spangled with stars), and thus she seems to cleave 
the air upwards, while adoring angels surround the glory of 
light within which she is enshrined. Such are the figures 
which are placed in sculpture over the portals of the churches 
dedicated to her, as the " Santa Maria del Fiore," — the Duomo, 
at Florence. She is not always standing and upright, but 
seated on a throne, placed within an aureole of light, and 
borne by angels, as over the door of the Campo Santa at Pisa. 
I am not sure that such figures are properly styled the Assump- 
tion ; they rather exhibit in an ideal form the glorification of 
the Virgin, another version of the same idea expressed in the 
Incoronata. She is here Maria Virgo Assumpta, or, in 
Italian, UAssunta ; she has taken upon her the glory of im- 
mortality, though not yet crowned. 

But when the Assumption is presented to us as the final 
scene of her life, and expresses, as it were, a progressive action 

— when she has left the empty tomb, and the wondering, 
weeping apostles on the earth below, and rises " like the morn- 
ing " (quasi aurora surgens ) from the night of the grave, 

— then we have the Assumption of the Virgin in its dramatic 
and historical form, the final act and consummation of her 
visible and earthly life. As the Church had never settled in 
what manner she was translated into heaven, only pronouncing 
it heresy to doubt the fact itself, the field was in great measure 
left open to the artists. The tomb below, the figure of the 
Virgin floating in mid-air, and the opening heavens above, such 
is the general conception fixed by the traditions of Art ; but to 

•S/ ft 



i '.J - i 

^A <V> 





give some idea of the manner in which this has been varied, I 
shall describe a few examples. 

1. Giunta Pisano, 1230. (Assisi, S. Francesco.) Christ and 
the Virgin ascend together in a seated attitude upborne by 
clouds and surrounded by angels ; his arm is round her. The 
empty tomb, with the apostles and others, below. The idea 
is here taken from the Canticles (eh. viii.), " Who is this that 
ariseth from the wilderness leaning upon her beloved ? " 

2. Andrea Orcagna, L359. (Bas-relief, Or San Michele, Flor- 
ence.) The Virgin Mary is seated on a rich throne within the 
mandorla, which is borne upwards by four angels, while two 
are playing on musical instruments. Immediately below the 
Virgin, on the right, is the figure of St. Thomas, with hands 
outstretched, receiving the mystic girdle ; below is the entomb- 
ment ; Mary lies extended on a pall above a sarcophagus. In 
the centre stands Christ, holding in his arms the emancipated 
sonl ; he is attended by eight angels. St. John is at the head 
of the Virgin, and near him an angel swings a censer; St. 
James bends and kisses her hand ; St. Peter reads as usual ; 
and the other apostles stand round, with Dionysius, Timothy, 
and Hierotheus, distinguished from the apostles by wearing 
turbans and caps. The whole most beautifully treated. 

I have been minutely exact in describing the details of this 
composition, because it will be useful as a key to many others 
of the early Tuscan school, both in sculpture and painting ; 
for example, the fine bas-relief by Nanni over the south door 
of the Duomo at Florence represents St. Thomas in the same 
manner kneeling outside the aureole and receiving the girdle ; 
but the entombment below is omitted. These sculptures were 
executed at the time when the enthusiasm for the Sacrath- 
slma Cintola della Madonna prevailed throughout the length 
and breadth of Tuscany, and Prato had become a place of pil- 

This story of the girdle was one of the legends imported 
from the East. It had certainly a Greek origin ; 1 and accord- 
ing to the Greek formula St. Thomas is to be figured apart in 
the clouds, on the right of the Virgin, and in the act of receiv- 
ing the girdle. Such is the approved arrangement till the 
end of the fourteenth century ; afterwards we find St. Thomas 
placed below among the other apostles. 

1 It may be found in the Greek Menologium, vol. iii. p. 225. 



An account of the Assumption would be imperfect without 
some notice of the Western legend, which relates the subse- 
quent history of the Girdle, and its arrival in Italy, as repre- 
sented in the frescoes of Agnolo Gaddi at Prato. 1 

The chapel della Sacratissima Cintola was erected from 
the designs of Giovanni Pisano about 1320. This " most 
sacred " relic had long been deposited under the high altar of 
the principal chapel, and held in great veneration ; but in the 
year 1312 a native of Prato, whose name was Musciatino, con- 
ceived the idea of carrying it off and selling it in Florence. 
The attempt was discovered, the unhappy thief suffered a cruel 
death, and the people of Prato resolved to provide for the 
future custody of the precious relic a new and inviolable 

The chapel is in the form of a parallelogram, three sides of 
which are painted, the other being separated from the choir by 
a bronze gate of most exquisite workmanship, designed by Ghi- 
berti, or, as others say, by Brunelleschi, and executed partly 
by Simone Donatello. x 

On the wall, to the left as we enter, is a series of subjects 
from the Life of the Virgin, beginning, as usual, with the 
Rejection of Joachim from the temple, and ending with the 
Nativity of our Saviour. 

The end of the chapel is filled up by the Assumption of the 
Virgin, the tomb being seen below, surrounded by the apostles ; 
and above it the Virgin, as she floats into heaven, is in the act 
of loosening her girdle, which St. Thomas, devoutly kneeling, 
stretches out his arms to receive. Above this, a circular win- 
dow exhibits, in stained glass, the Coronation of the Virgin, 
surrounded by a glory of angels. 

On the third wall to the right we have the subsequent 
History of the Girdle, in six: compartments. 

St. Thomas, on the eve of his departure to fulfil his mission 
as apostle in the far East, intrusts the precious girdle to the 
care of one of his disciples, who receives it from his hands in 
an ecstasy of amazement and devotion. 

The deposit remains, for a thousand years, shrouded from 

1 Notizie istoriche intorno alia sacratissima Cintola di Maria Vergine, che si 
wnserva Cittnella a di Prato, dal Dottore Giuseppe Bianchini di Prato, 1795. 


the eyes of tho profane ; and the next scene shows ns the 
manner in which it reached the city of Prato. A certain 
Michael, of the Dogomari family in Prato, joined, with a party 
of his young townsmen, the crusade in 1090. But, instead of 
returning to his native country after the war was over, this 
same Michael took up the trade of a merchant, travelling from 
land to land in pursuit of gain, until he came to the city of 
Jerusalem, and lodged in the house of a Greek priest, to whom 
the custody of the sacred relic had descended from a long line 
of ancestry ; and this priest, according to the custom of the 
oriental church, was married, and had "one fair daughter, and 
no more, the which he loved passing well," so well, that he 
had intrusted to her care the venerahle girdle. Now it chanced 
that Michael, lodging in the same house, became enamored of 
the maiden, and not being able to obtain the' consent of her 
father to their marriage, he had recourse to the mother, who, 
moved by the tears and entreaties of the daughter, not only 
permitted their union, but bestowed on her the girdle as a 
dowry, and assisted the young lovers in their flight. 

In accordance with this story, we have, in the third com- 
partment, the Marriage of Michael with the Eastern Maixlen, 
and then the voyage from the Holy Land to the shores of 
Tuscany. On the deck of the vessel, and at the foot of the 
mast, is placed the casket containing the relic, to which the 
mariners attribute their prosperous voyage to the shores of 
Italy. Then Michael is seen disembarking at Pisa, and, with 
his casket reverently carried in his hands, he reenters the 
paternal mansion in the city of Prato. 

Then we have a scene of wonder. Michael is extended on 
his bed in profound sleep. An angel at his head, and another 
at his feet, are about to lift him up ; for, says the story, 
Michael was so jealous of his treasure, that not only he kindled 
a lamp every night in its honor, but fearing he should be 
robbed of it, he placed it under his bed, which action, though 
suggested by his profound sense of its value, offended his 
guardian angels, who every night lifted him from his bed and 
placed him on the bare earth, which nightly infliction this 
pious man endured rather than risk the loss of his invaluable 
relic. Put after some years Michael fell sick and died. 

In the last compartment we have the scene of his death. 
The bishop Uberto kneels at his side, and receives from him 


the sacred girdle, with a solemn injunction to preserve it in 
the cathedral church of the city, and to present it from time to 
time for the veneration of the people, which injunction Uberto 
most piously fulfilled ; and we see him carrying it, attended 
by priests bearing torches, in solemn procession to the chapel, 
in which it has ever since remained. 

Agnolo Gaddi was but a second-rate artist, even for his time, 
yet these frescoes, in spite of the feebleness and general inac- 
curacy of the drawing, are attractive from a certain naive 
grace ; and the romantic and curious details of the legend have 
lent them so much of interest, that, as Lord Lindsay says, 
" when standing on the spot one really feels indisposed for 
criticism." l 

The exact date of the frescoes executed by Agnolo Gaddi is 
not known, but, according to Vasari he was called to Prato 
after 1348. An inscription in the chapel refers them to the 
year 1390, a date too late to be relied on. The story of 
Michele di Prato I have never seen elsewhere ; but just as the 
vicinity of Cologne, the shrine of the " Three Kings," had 
rendered the adoration of the Magi one of the popular themes 
in early German and Flemish Art, so the vicinity of Prato 
rendered the legend of St. Thomas a favorite theme of the 
Florentine school, and introduced it wherever the influence of 
that school had extended. The fine fresco by Mainardi, in the 
Baroncelli chapel, is an instance ; and I must cite one yet 
finer, that by Ghirlandajo in the choir of S. Maria Novella ; 
in this last mentioned example, the Virgin stands erect in star- 
bespangled drapery and closely veiled. 

We now proceed to other examples of the treatment of the 

1 M. Rio is more poetical. ["But when I heard this legend related for the 
first time, it appeared to me that the picture reflected a portion of the poetry it 
contains. This love beyond the sea, blended with the chivalrous adventures of 
a crusade — this precious relic, given in dowry to a poor girl — the devotion of 
the young spouses for this revered pledge of their happiness — their clandestine 
departure — their prosperous vo}-age, accompanied by dolphins, who form their 
escort on the surface of the water — their arrival at Prato, the repeated miracles, 
which, together with a mortal malady, draw at length from the lips of the dy- 
ing man a public declaration, in consequence of which the holy girdle was de- 
posited in the cathedral, — all this mixture of romantic passion and naive piety 
had effaced for me the technical imperfections which would probably have struck 
a more critical observer."] Christian Art, p. 63. 


3. Taddeo Bartolo, L41S. (Series at Siena, Palazzo Pubblico.) 
Ho has represented the moment in which tlio soul fa reunited 
to the body. Clothed in a starry robe she appears in the very 
act and attitude of one rising up from a reclining position, 
which is most beautifully expressed, as if she were partly lifted 
up upon the expanded, many-colored wings of a cluster of an- 
gels, and partly drawn up, as it were, by the attractive power 
of Christ, who, floating above her, takes her clasped hands in 
both his. The intense, yet tender ecstasy in her face, the 
mild, spiritual benignity in his, are quite indescribable, and fix 
the picture in the heart and the memory as one of the finest 
religious conceptions extant. 

I imagine this action of Christ taking her hands in both his 
must be founded on some ancient Greek model, for I have 
seen the same motif in other pictures, German and Italian ; 
but in none so tenderly or so happily expressed. 

4. [Siena School] Berlin Gallery. A large altar-piece. Mary 
seated on a throne, within a glory of encircling cherubim of a 
glowing red, and about thirty more angels, some adoring, others 
playing on musical instruments, is borne upwards. Her hands 
are joined in prayer, her head veiled and crowned, and she 
wears a white robe, embroidered with golden flowers. Above, 
in the opening heaven, is the figure of Christ, young and beard- 
less (a Vantique), w r ith outstretched arms, surrounded by the 
spirits of the blessed. Below, of a diminutive size, as if seen 
from a distant height, is the tomb surrounded by the apostles, 
St. Thomas holding the girdle. This is one of the most re- 
markable and important pictures of the Siena school, out of 
Siena, with which I am acquainted. 

5. Ghirlandajo, 1475. The Virgin stands in star-spangled 
drapery, with a long white veil, and hands joined as she floats 
upwards. She is sustained by four seraphim. (Florence, S. 
Maria Novella.) 

6. Raphael, 1516. The Virgin is seated within the horns 
of a crescent moon, her hands joined. On each side an angel 
stands, bearing a flaming torch ; the empty tomb and eleven 
apostles below. This composition is engraved after Raphael 
by an anonymous master (Le Maitre mi de). It is majestic 
and graceful, but peculiar for the time. The two angels, or 
rather genii, bearing torches on each side, impart to the whole 
something of the air of a heathen apotheosis. 


7. Albert Diirer. The apostles kneel or stand round the 
empty tomb ; while Mary, soaring upwards, is received into 
heaven by her Son ; an angel on each side. 

8. Gaudenzio Ferrari, 1525. Mary, in a white robe span- 
gled with stars, rises upwards as if cleaving the air in an erect 
position, with her hands extended but not raised, and a beauti- 
ful expression of mild rapture, as if uttering the words at- 
tributed to her, " My heart is ready ; " many angels, some of 
whom bear tapers, around her. One angel presents the end of 
the girdle to St. Thomas ; the other apostles and the empty 
tomb lower down. (Vercelli, S. Cristoforo.) 

9. Correggio. (Cupola of the Duomo at Parma, 1530.) 
This is, perhaps, one of the earliest instances of the Assumption 
applied as a grand piece of scenic decoration ; at all events, 
we have nothing in this luxuriant composition of the solemn 
simplicity of the older conception. In the highest part of the 
cupola, where the strongest light falls, Christ, a violently fore- 
shortened figure, precipitates himself downwards to meet the 
ascending Madonna, who, reclining amid clouds, and surrounded 
by an innumerable company of angels, extends her arms to- 
wards him. One glow of heavenly rapture is diffused over 
all ; but the scene is vast, confused, almost tumultuous. Be- 
low, all around the dome, as if standing on a balcony, appear 
the apostles. 1 

10. Titian, 1540 (about). In the Assumption at Venice, a 
picture of world-wide celebrity, and, in its way, of unequalled 
beauty, we have another signal departure from all the old tradi- 
tions. The noble figure of the Virgin in a flood of golden light 
is borne, or rather impelled, upwards with such rapidity, that 
her veil and drapery are disturbed by the motion. Her feet 
are uncovered, a circumstance inadmissible in ancient Art ; and 
her drapery, instead of being white, is of the usual blue and 
crimson, her appropriate colors in life. Her attitude, with out- 
spread arms — her face, not indeed a young or lovely face, but 
something far better, sublime and powerful in the expression of 
rapture — the divinely beautiful and childish, yet devout, un- 
earthly little angels around her — the grand apostles below — 
and the splendor of color over all — render this picture an en- 
chantment at once to the senses and the imagination ; to me 
the effect was like music. 

1 [There are five engravings by Toschi.] 



Assumption of the Virgin (Titian) 

11. Palma Vecchio, 1535. (Venice Academy.) The Virgin 
looks down, not upwards, as is usual, and is in the act of taking 
off her girdle to bestow it on St. Thomas, who, with ten other 
apostles, stands below. 

12. Annibal Caracci, 1600. (Bologna Gallery.) The Vir- 
gin amid a crowd of youthful angels, and sustained by clouds, 
is placed across the picture with extended arms. Below is the 
tomb (of sculptured marble) and eleven apostles, one of whom, 
with an astonished air, lifts from the sepulchre a handful of 
roses. There is another picture wonderfully fine in the same 
style by Agostino Caracci. This fashion of varying the atti- 
tude of the Virgin was carried in the later schools to every 
excess of affectation. In a picture by Lanfranco, she cleaves 
the air like a swimmer, which is detestable. 

13. Rubens painted at least twelve Assumptions with char- 
acteristic verve and movement. Some of these, if not very 
solemn or poetical, convey very happily the idea of a renovated 
life. The largest and most splendid as a scenic composition is 


in the Muse'e at Brussels. More beautiful, and, indeed, quite 
unusually poetical for Kubens, is the small Assumption in the 
Queen's Gallery, a finished sketch for the larger picture. The 
majestic Virgin, arrayed in white and blue drapery, rises with 
outstretched arms, surrounded by a choir of angels ; below, 
the apostles and the women either follow with upward gaze the 
soaring ecstatic figure, or look with surprise at the flowers which 
spring within the empty tomb. 

In another 4-SSumption by Rubens, one of the women ex- 
hibits the miraculous flowers in her apron, or in a cloth, I forget 
which ; but the whole conception, like too many of his reli- 
gious subjects, borders on the vulgar and familiar. 

14. Guido, as it is well known, excelled in this fine sub- 
ject — I mean according to the taste and manner of his time 
and school. His ascending Madonnas have a sort of aerial ele- 
gance which is very attractive ; but they are too nymph-like. 
We must be careful to distinguish in his pictures (and all 
similar pictures painted after 1615) between the Assumption 
and the Immaculate Conception ; it is a difference in senti- 
ment, which I have already pointed out. The small finished 
sketch by Guido in our National Gallery is an Assumption and 
Coronation together ; the Madonna is received into heaven 
as Regina Angelorum. The fine large Assumption in the Mu- 
nich Gallery may be regarded as the best example of Guido's 
manner of treating this theme. His picture in the Bridge- 
water Gallery, often styled an Assumption, is an Immaculate 

The same observations would apply to Poussin, with, how- 
ever, more of majesty. His Virgins are usually seated or 
reclining, and in general we have a fine landscape beneath. 

The Assumption, like the Annunciation, the Nativity, and 
other historical themes, may, through ideal accessories, assume 
a purely devotional form. It ceases then to be a fact or an 
event, and becomes a vision or a mystery, adored by votaries, 
to which attendant saints bear witness. Of this style of treat- 
ment there are many beautiful examples. 

1. Early Florentine, about 1450. The Virgin, seated, ele- 
gantly draped in white, and with pale blue ornaments in her 
hair, rises within a glory sustained by six angels ; below is the. 


Assumption of the Virgin (Granacci) 

tomb full of flowers, and in front, kneeling, St. Francis and 
St. Jerome. (Collection of Fuller Maitland, Esq. 1 ) 

2. Ambrogio Borgognone, 1500. (Milan, Brera.) She 
stands, floating upwards in a fine attitude : two angels crown 
her ; others sustain her ; others sound their trumpets. Below 
are the apostles and empty tomb ; at each side, St. Ambrose 
and St. Augustine ; behind them, St. Cosimo and St. Damian ; 
the introduction of these saintly apothecaries stamps the pic- 
ture as an ex-voto — perhaps against the plague. It is very 
fine, expressive, and curious. 

3. F. Granacci, 1530. 2 (Pal. Kuccellai, Florence.) The 

1 [The picture was attributed to Angelico, and is described in Bedford's 
Sales, vol. i. p. 295, and vol. ii. p. 216. Sold in 1879.] 

2 Engraved in the Etruria Pittrice. 


Virgin, ascending in glory, presents her girdle to St. Thomas, 
who kneels ; on each side, standing as witnesses, St. John the 
Baptist, as patron of Florence, St. Laurence, as patron of Lo- 
renzo de' Medici, and the two apostles, St. Bartholomew and 
St. James. 

4. Andrea del Sarto, 1520. (Pitti, Florence.) She is 
seated amid vapory clouds, arrayed in white ; on each side 
adoring angels ; below, the tomb with the apostles, a fine 
solemn group ; and in front, St. Nicholas, and that interesting 
penitent saint, St. Margaret of Cortona. (Legends of the Mo- 
nastic Orders p. 339.) The head of the Virgin is the like- 
ness of Andrea's infamous wife ; otherwise this is a magnificent 

The Coronation of the Virgin follows the Assumption. 
In some instances this final consummation of her glorious des- 
tiny supersedes, or rather includes, her ascension into iieaven. 

As I have already observed, it is necessary to distinguish 
this scenic Coronation from the mystical Incoronata, properly 
so called, which is the triumph of the allegorical church, 
and altogether an allegorical and devotional theme ; whereas 
the scenic Coronation is the last event in a series of the Life 
of the Virgin. Here we have before us, not merely the court 
of heaven, its argent fields peopled with celestial spirits, and 
the sublime personification of the glorified Church exhibited 
as a vision, and quite apart from all real, all human associa- 
tions ; but we have rather the triumph of the human mother 
— the lowly woman lifted into immortality. The earth and 
its sepulchre, the bearded apostles beneath, show us that, like 
her Son, she has ascended into glory by the dim portal of the 
grave, and entered into felicity by the path of pain. Her Son, 
next to whom she has taken her seat, has himself wiped the 
tears from her eyes, and set the resplendent crown upon her 
head ; the Father blesses her ; the Holy Spirit bears witness ; 
cherubim and seraphim welcome her, and salute her as their 
queen. So Dante — 

At their joy 
And carol smiles the Lovely One of heaven, 
That joy is in the eyes of all the blest. 

Thus, then, we must distinguish : — 

1. The Coronation of the Virgin is a strictly devotional 

CORONATION OF THE VIRGIN (attributed to Raphael) 


subject where she is attended, not merely by angels and pa- 
triarchs, but by canonized saints and martyrs, by fathers and 
doctors of the Church, heads of religious orders in monkish 
dresses, patrons and votaries. 

2. It is a dramatic and historical subject when it is the last 
scene in a series of the Life of the Virgin ; when the death- 
bed or the tomb, or the wondering apostles and weeping 
women are figured on the earth below. 

Of the former treatment I have spoken at length. It is 
that most commonly met with in early pictures and altar- 

With regard to the historical treatment, it is more rare as 
a separate subject, but there are some celebrated examples, 
both in church decoration and in pictures. 

1. In the apsis of the Duomo at Spoleto we have, below, 
the death of the Virgin in the usual manner, that is, the Byzan- 
tine conception treated in the Italian style, with Christ receiv- 
ing her soul, and over it the Coronation. The Virgin kneels 
in a white robe spangled with golden flowers ; and Christ, 
who is here represented rather as the Father than the Son, 
crowns her as Queen of Heaven. 

2. The composition by Albert Diirer, which concludes his 
fine series of woodcuts, the " Life of the Virgin," is very grand 
and singular. On the earth is the empty tomb ; near it the 
bier ; around stand the Twelve Apostles all looking up amazed. 
There is no allusion to the girdle, which, indeed, is seldom 
found in northern Art. Above, the Virgin floating in the air, 
with the rainbow under her feet, is crowned by the Father and 
the Son, while over her head hovers the Holy Dove. 

3. In the Vatican is the Coronation attributed to Raphael. 
That he designed the cartoon, and began the altar-piece, for 
the nuns of Monte-Luce, near Perugia, seems beyond all doubt ; 
but it is equally certain that the picture as we see it was 
painted almost entirely by his pupils Giulio Romano and Gian 
Francesco Penni. Here we have the tomb below, filled with 
flowers ; and around it the Twelve Apostles ; John and his 
brother James, in front, looking up ; behind John, St. Peter ; 
more in the background, St. Thomas holds the girdle. Above 
is the throne set in heaven, whereon the Virgin, mild and 
beautiful, sits beside her divine Son, and with joined hands 
and veiled head, and eyes meekly cast down, bends to receive 


the golden coronet he is about to place on her brow. The 
dove is omitted, but eight seraphim, with rainbow-tinted 
wings, hover above her head. On the right, a most graceful 
angel strikes the tamborine ; on the left, another, equally 
graceful, sounds the viol ; and, amidst a flood of light, hosts 
of celestial and rejoicing spirits fill up the background. 

Thus in highest heaven, yet not out of sight of earth, in 
beatitude past utterance, in blessed fruition of all that faith 
creates and love desires, amid angel hymns and starry glories, 
ends the pictured life of Mary, Mother of our Lord. 


This Index does not include the pictures of those collections known to be dispersed (as 
noted on page v. of the Editor's Preface), nor those in the small private collections 
which are inaccessible to the ordinary tourist. 

Aix— Church of the Carmelites: King 

Rent's votive Madonna, 1(50, 1G1. 
Amiens — Cathedral : stall carvings of the 
Life of the Virgin, 201 ; Joseph entreat- 
ing the Virgin's forgiveness, 237 ; The 
Saviour preaching in Judaea, 312 ; Ap- 
parition of Christ to lus Mother, 330 ; 
bas-relief of the Adoration of the Magi, 
261 ; bas-relief of the Assumption, 339. 
MuMUin : Allegorical Annunciation, 21G. 
Antwerp — - ( 'aihedral : Rubens, 233, 321. 

Museum : Rubens, 19G: Titian, 1G3 note. 
Assisi: S. Francesco: Cimabue, 342; Gi- 
unta Pisauo, 349. 

Beneventum — Cathedral : sculptured dec- 
oration representing St. Joseph carry- 
ing the Child, 270. 

Berlin — Gallery : Crivelli, 141 ; Van Eyck 
brothers, 68, 221 ; John van Eyck, 227 ; 
Gentile da Fabriano, 132 ; Giacomo 
Francia, 182; Gaddi, 327; Granacci, 
125 ; Filippo Lippi, 89 ; Siena school, 
363; Squarcione, 1G9 ; Roger van der 
Weyden, 243 note ; Zaganelli, 217. 

Bologna — Gallery : Annibal Caracci, 355 ; 
Cesi, 1S5 ; Girolamo da Cotignola, 207 ; 
Francia, 217, 242 ; Perugino, 142 ; 
Guido Reni, 58, 80, 98, 155; Tiarini, 
Duomo: Ludovico Caracci, 32G. 
S. Giacomo: Lorenzo Costa, 15G. 

BoLOGNA(near), Madonna della Guardia, 24. 

Breslau : wood carving of the Annuncia- 
tion, 214. 

Bruges— St. John's Hospital: Memling,144. 

Brussels: Rubens, 81. 
Musee : Rubens, 87, 355, 356. 

Caen— Museum : Perugino, 20G. 

Cambridge — Fitzirilliam Museum : Ca- 
racci, 331. 

Capua— Cathedral: mosaic, 116. 

Cento — Cathedral : Guercino, 330. 

Chartres — Notre Dame: architectural 
decoration representing Massacre of 
Innocents, 2G9. 

Citta di Castello : St. Joseph carrying 
the Child, 270 note. 

Colmar — Cathedral : Martin Schoen, 34. 

Cologne — Cathedral : altar-piece, 211, 
210 ; shrine of three kings, 253. 

S. Maria in Capitolio : Apostles taking 
leave of the Virgin, 334. 
Cremona : Antonello Mellone, 274. 

Dolsach : Franz Defregger, 294. 

Dresden — Gallery: Correggio, 149, 154- 
156, 247 ; Dosso Dossi, 103 ; Fran- 
cia, 258 ; Giulio Romano, 300 ; Holbein, 
31,157; after Moretto, 90 and note; 
Palma, 180, 181 ; Raphael, 31 ; Guido 
Reni, 330; Paul Veronese, 2G0 note, 

Dulwich — Gallery : Murillo, 58, 151 ; 
Rembrandt school, 247 note. 

Faenza : Guido Reni, 107. 
Ferrara : Garofalo, 279. 
Florence — Annunziata : Bartolommeo of 
Florence, 213 ; Franciabigio, 52 note ; 
David Ghirlandajo, 212 ; Pontormo, 52 
note ; Andrea del Sarto, 52, 195, 214. 

Carmine : Agnolo Gaddi, 200. 

S. Croce: Taddeo Gaddi, 48, 49, 132, 
188, 190, 192, 194, 198, 20G,2G1 ; Giotto, 
50, 76 ; Mainardi, 50, 352 ; Giovanni da 
Milano, 50. 

Duomo : Donatello, 76 note ; Gaddo Gad- 
di, 75 ; Nanni di Banco, 349. 

S. Marco: Fra Angelico, 93, 218, 313; 
Cavallini, 213 note. 

S. Maria Maddelena de' Pazzi : Dome- 
nico Puligo, 148. 

S.Maria Novella: Cimabue, 14, 119; 
Ghirlandajo, 50, 51, 189, 194, 198, 206, 
207, 343, 352, 353. 

Or San Michele: Francesco da San 
Gallo, 136 ; Orcagna, 54, 197, 340, 349. 

Academy : Botticelli, 80 ; Cimabue, 119 ; 
Giotto (or a pupil), 306 ; Filippo Lippi, 
340 ; Lorenzo Monaco, 213. 

Bargello : Michael Angelo, 299. 

Casa Buonarroti : Michael Angelo, 299. 

Foundling Hospital : Luca della Robbia, 

Pitti Palace : Francesco Albano, 331 ; 
Fra Angelico, 149 ; Bartolommeo, 144 ; 
Botticelli, 290 ; D. Ghirlandajo, 257 ; 
Filippino Lippi, 176 ; Murillo, 170 ; Na- 
tivity, by unknown painter, 244 ; Par- 
migiano, 23 ; Perugino, 323 ; Raphael, 
37, 59. 149, 164, 168 ; Rubens, 300 ; V. 
Salimbeni, 300 ; Andrea del Sarto, 225, 



358 ; Bartolommeo Schidone, 288 ; Van- 
dvck, 278 ; C. Vecelli (replica of Titian), 
180 ; Paul Veronese, 314. 

Riccardi Palace: Benozzo Gozzoli, 2G1. 

Ruccellai Palace : Francesco Granacci, 

Uffizi : Albertinelli, 233 ; Fra Angelico, 
342; Michael Angelo, 299; Botticelli, 
1G5, 256 ; Correggio, 177, 178 ; Albert 
Diirer, 258, 260 ; Maso Finiguerra, 83 ; 
Giottino (?), 325 ; Leonardo da Vinci, 
256 ; Filippo Lippi, 178 ; Mantegna, 172 ; 
Simone Memmi, 52 note, 216, 217; 
Raphael, 290 ; Cosimo Roselli, 70 ; An- 
drea del Sarto, 128. 
Forli — S. Biagio : Guido Reni, 105. 

Frankfort— Museum: Moretto, 142, 143. 

Hampton Court : Spagnoletto, 106 ; Pietro 

da Cortona, 238. 
Hanover — Museum : Ittenbach, 202. 
Liverpool — Museum : Sienese miniature, 
235 note. 

Royal Institution : Simone Memmi, 306. 
London — Royal Academy : Michael An- 
gelo, 299. 

British Museum : print of allegorical 
Annunciation, 216. 

Bridgewater Gallery (Lord Ellesmere) : 
Raphael, 168, 292 ; copy after, 295 note ; 
Guido Reni. 104, 200, 356 ; Schidone, 
304 ; Vandyck, 170. 

Grosvenor Gallery (Duke of Westmin- 
ster) : Poussin, 278, 279 ; Rembrandt, 

Lansdowne House: Ludovico Caracci, 
36; Murillo, 106; Andrea del Sarto, 

National Gallery: Baroccio, 37, 127; 
Bellini, 174 ; Bellini school (or Vin- 
cenzo Catena), 163 ; Bertucci of Faenza, 
132 note ; Ambrogio Borgognone, 145 ; 
Botticelli, 244 ; Correggio, 60, 298, 316 ; 
Carlo Crivelli, 129; Francia, 95, 134, 
135 ; Benozzo Gozzoli, 147, 150, 151 ; 
Leonardo da Vinci, 174 ; Lorenzo di San 
Severino, 144 ; Mola, 279 ; Murillo, 2S5 ; 
Perugino, 140, 177 ; attributed to, 165 ; 
Baldassare Peruzzi, 257, 258 ; Raphael, 
290 ; Guido Reni, 356 ; Rossetti, 202, 
228 ; Andrea del Sarto, 299 ; Titian. 180 ; 
Marcello Venusti (after Michael An- 
gelo), 137 ; Paul Veronese, 260 note. 

Queen's Gallery : Michael Angelo (copy 
by Marcello Venusti), 96 ; Rembrandt, 
261 ; Rubens, 356. 

Sutherland Gallery (Stafford House) : 
Death of the Virgin, after Albert 
Diirer, 344 note ; Pellegrino, 149. 
Lorhtto — Casa: Sansovino, 54, 219. 
Lucca — Gallery : Bartolommeo, 91. 

8. Frediano : Francia, 108. 

Madrid — Gallery (the Prado) : Raphael 
Mengs, 249 ; "Murillo, 58, 59, 196, 300 ; 
Raphael, 139, 140, 231, 315 ; Rubens. 
260 ; Velasquez, 81. 

Marseilles — Musee : Perugino, 297. 

Milan — Cathedral : Bas-reliefs, 54. 
S. Maurizio : Luini, 310. 

Brera : Bernardino de' Conti, 157 ; Am- 
brogio Borgognone, 357 ; Carpaccio, 
198 ; Girolamo Genga, 143 note ; Luini, 
34 note, 54, 189, 190, 200, 201, 207, 208, 
236; Palma (and Cariani), 25S ; Ra- 
phael, 206 ; Giovanni Sanzio, 216 ; Scar- 
sellino, 143 note ; Cesare da Sesto, 34 ; 
Paul Veronese, 260 note, 311. 

Monreale — Cathedral : sculptured deco- 
ration representing St. Joseph carry- 
ing the Child, 27,0. 

Monte Pulciano — Church of Miseri- 
cordia : Pietro Lorenzetti, 76. 

Munich — Gallery : Gerard David, 256, 
257 ; Death of the Virgin, after Albert 
Diirer, 344 note ; Death of the Virgin, 
several pictures of, 345 note ; Van 
Eyck, 227 ; Francia, 34, 177, 178 ; Mem- 
ling, 55 note, 272 ; Raphael, 16S ; Guido 
Reni, 356 ; Francisco Ribalta, 327 note ; 
Hans Schaufelein, 341 ; Roger van der 
Weyden, 268. 
Leuchtenberg Gallery: Giovanni Bellini, 

Schleissheim Gallery : Schoen, 86. 

Naples — Museum: Raphael (copy of), 295 

New York— Metropolitan Art Gallery: 
Rubens, 307. 

Nuremberg — Lorenz Kirche : Architectu- 
ral decoration representing Massacre 
of Innocents, 269 note. 

Orvieto — Cathedral : Madonna di San Bri- 

zio, 121,122; Mocchi, 225. 
Oxford — Bodleian Library : Office of the 

Virgin, 201 note. 
Museum : Raphael, 82. 

Padua — Chapel of Arena : Giotto, 47, 54, 
190, 205 note," 206 and note, 207, 270, 
S. Giustina : Bissoni, 334. 

Paitone : Moretto, 90 note. 

Paris — National Library : Finiguerra, 84 ; 
Arabic MS., 307 note. 
Louvre : Ippolito Andreasi, 300 ; Fra 
Angelico, 76 ; Bartolommeo, 144, 217 ; 
Beltraffio, 243 note ; Le Brim, 301 ; 
Annibal Caracci, 292 ; Caravaggio, 346 ; 
Lorenzo di Credi, 80; Donienicliino, 
276 ; Van Eyck, 161 ; D. Ghirlandajo, 
231 note; Ridolfo Ghirlandajo, 80; 
Giulio Romano. 243 ; Leonardo da Vinci, 
135, 295 ; Leonardo school, 175; Filippo, 
Lippi, 340, 341 ; Lorenzo di Pavia, 
297; Andrea Mantegna, 153; Murillo, 
106 ; Sebastian del Piombo, 231 ; Pous- 
sin, 59 ; Raphael, 95 note, 290, 298, 323 
note ; Rembrandt, 301 ; Andrea del 
Sarto, 299 ; Solario, 2S8 ; Tiarini, 237 ; 
Titian, 37, 165 note, 181, 324. 
Luxembourg : Bouguereau, 87 note. 
Notre- Dame : Sculpture, 237 ; Assump- 
tion of the Virgin, 339. 

Parma — Gallery : Agostino Caracci, 288 ; 
Ludovico Caracci, 347 ; Correggio, 143, 
Buomo : Correggio, 354. 

Peruuia : Greek Madonna, 167, 168. 



Pisa — flf. Maria delta Spina: NL'colo 
Ptaano. 121. 
Campo Santo: Btardo I >;i«l<l i , 86 note] 
Simon.' Memml, t;s ; Andrea Orcagna 
(attributed to), 86 note. 

Puxou — flf. Andrea: Sculptured Adora- 
tion, 254 note. 

Prato — Cathedral : Agnolo Caddi, 54, 350- 

Ravenna — ArcMepiscopal Chapel: mo- 
saic, 66. 

8. Apollinare NUOVO: mosaic, 131; mo- 
saic, 264. 

flf. Mn r in in Porto: mosaic, 00. 

Mausoleum oj Oatta Plaetdia: Sarco- 
phagufl sculpture of Adoration of 
Kings, 264 
Remagen — St. Apollinuiis : frescoes, 38. 
Khkims : tapestry, 200. 
Rome — The Vatican: Raphael, 267. 

(Sistine Chapel), Michael Angclo, 87. 

(Appartamenti Borgia), Pinturicchio, 
20. 232. 

(Picture Gallery), Pinturicchio, 77, 80 ; 
Raphael, 60, 168, 169, 359 ; Titian, 154. 

(Gallery of Tapestries), Raphael, 82. 

(Camera della Segnatura), Raphael, 21, 

(The Loggia), Raphael, 248. 

(Christian Museum), sculptured Adora- 
tion of Magi, 253 ; Death of the Vir- 
gin, 342. 

Ara-Ca/i : Greek Madonna, 1G8 ; bas- 
relief, 238. 

St. John Lateran: mosaics, G5 ; mosaics, 

S. Maria in Cosmedino : Greek Madonna, 

S. Maria Maggiore: Borghese chapel 
decorations, 60-62 ; mosaic, Coronation, 
74, 75 ; mosaic, Annunciation, 222 ; mo- 
saic, Adoration, 254. 

S. Maria sopra Minerva: Benozzo 
Gozzoli, 218. 

8. Mmia della Navicella : mosaic, 117. 

S. Maria lXuova (Santa Francesca) : 
mosaic, 117. 

.s'. Maria del Popolo: Pinturicchio, 51, 

S. Maria in Trasteverc : mosaic, Corona- 
tion, 74, 84; mosaic, Virgin and Child, 

S. Onofrio : Pinturicchio (or Peruzzi), 
272 and note. 

St. Peter's: Michael Angelo, 40, 94, 9G ; 
Biancbi, 107 ; (sacristy), dalmatica, G8. 

TrinithaW Monti: Daniel di Volterra, 

S. Zeno: mosaic, 117. 

Borghese QaUery : School of Francia, 
143 ; Raphael, 323 note, 324. 

Capitol : Cola dell' Amatrice, 345, 34G. 

Colonna Palace: Niooolo Alunno, 92. 

Quirtnal Chapel: Guido Reni, 104. 
Rouen — Museum: Van Eyck (or Mem- 
ling), Votive Madonna, 1G0. 

San BaroLono: Plero della Iranoeeoa, 90 

.Seville — Museum : Murillo, GO, 10G ; Roe- 
las, 1(15. 
Siena : Madonna del Voto, 153. 
Oratory of San Bernardino: Bazzi, 52, 
53; Bcccafumi, 5'J; Girolamo del 
Pacchia, 52. 
Cathedral: sculptured pilasters, 47 note, 
flf, Dotnenieo: Guido da Siena, lis. 
S. Quirico: Francesco Vanni, 283. 
Academy : Plntnrioehio, 298, 299. 
Finite Giusla: Baldassare Peruzzi, 238, 

Palazzo Pubblico: Taddeo Bartolo, 47, 
48, 342, 34G, 353. 
Spello : Pinturicchio, 30G and note. 
Spoleto— Duovio: Filippo Lippi, 82, 359. 
St. Petersburg — Hermitage: Murillo, 
294 ; Raphael, GO note, 169, 175 ; Rem- 
brandt, 294 ; Guido Reni. 104. 
Leuchtenberg QaUery: Murillo (attrib- 
uted to), 170 note. 
Strasburg — Library : Hortus Deliciarum, 
8G and note. 

Torcello — Cathedral : mosaic, 85 note. 
Treves — Cathedral : bas-relief, 80. 
Turin — Gallery : Memling, 55 note. 

Varallo — Church of Minorites : Gau- 

denzio Ferrari, 275. 
Venice — Carmine : Cima da Conegliano, 

S. Chiara : plan of altar-piece, 44. 

S. Francesco della Vigna : Antonio da 
Negroponte, 34 note, 128. 

Frari: Titian, 1G2. 

Academy: Giovanni Bellini, 124, 1G4 ; 
Bonifazio Veneziano, 134 ; Carpaccio, 
192; Benedetto Diana, 149 note; Gio- 
vanni and Antonio da Murano, 79 note, 
142 note ; Palma Vecchio, 355 ; Porde- 
none, 151; Titian, 198,354, 355; Gio- 
vanni da Udine, 30G; Paul Veronese, 
137 ; Alvise Vivarini, 13G. 

School of Charity : bas-relief, 89, 90. 

School of S. Jioch: Tintoretto, 223, 
Vercelli — S. Cristoforo : Gaudeuzio Fer- 
rari, 354. 
Verona — Gallery: Cavazzola, 150. 

S. Bernardino : Carotto, 314. 
Vienna — Belvedere: Caravaggio, 151 ; Ti- 
tian, 1G5, 293; German Madonna, 165, 
166 ; Carlo Cignani, 170; Raphael, 175; 
Paul Veronese, 2G0 note ; Giorgione, 
2G2 ; Fra Bartolommeo, 2G6 ; Domenico 
Feti, 283 ; Carlo Maratti. 308. 

Lichtenstein Gallery : St. Anna and the 
Virgin, 19G ; Vandyck, 323 ; Apparition 
of Christ to his Mother, 330. 

Esterhaey QaUery: Lazaro Tavarone, 
105 ; Carducho, 150 note. 
Weimar : old German Annunciation, 216 

Windsor: Titian, 199 note | Garofalo, 293 


Adoration of Magi (or Kings), 250-2G2 ; 
legend of, 250-253 ; religious significance 
of, 253 ; represented with Adoration of 
Shepherds, 255 ; question as to the time 
of, 263. 

Adoration of Shepherds, 248, 249 ; repre- 
sented with Adoration of Magi, 255. 

Albano, Francesco, painted his wife as the 
Madonna, 2G ; Apparition of Christ to 
his Mother, 331. 

Albertinelli, Mariotto, Visitation by, 233, 
234 ; Nativity, 242. 

Alden, Henry M., God in His World cited, 
3 note. 

Allori, Cristofano, Madonna by, 172. 

Altar-pieces, described, 42, 43 ; examples 
of, 43-45. 

Alunno, Niccolo del, Madonna of Mercy, 02. 

Amatrice, Cola dell', Death of the Virgin, 

Andreasi, Ippolito, Holy Family, 300. 

Angelico, Fra (Giovanni da Fiesole), Coro- 
nation, 75 note, 7G ; Stabat Mater, 03 ; 
St. Augustine, 149 ; Marriage of the Vir- 
gin, 203, 20G ; Annunciation, 218 ; Annun- 
ciation, 224 ; Adoration of Magi, 25G ; 
Transfiguration, 313 ; Last Supper, 313 ; 
Death of the Virgin, 342 ; Entombment 
of the Virgin, 347 ; Assumption of the 
Virgin, attributed to, 357 note. 

Angels, represented in Madonna pictures, 
39, 40, 131, 132 ; as ministers on the Flight 
into Egypt, 270. 

Angelus, the, 220. 

Animals, in sacred art, 37 ; significance of 
the Nativity, 246. 

Anna, the Prophetess, her relation to the 
Presentation in the Temple, 264. 

Anna, St., her place in Madonna pictures, 
135, 136 ; legend of, with Joachim, 13, 184- 
192 ; English churches dedicated to, 185 
note ; Annunciation to, represented, 190 ; 
altercation with Judith, represented, 190; 
meeting with Joachim, 190-192 ; intro- 
duced into Holy Family, 294,295 ; tradi- 
tion of her three marriages, 296. 

Annunciation, the, 209-228 ; as a mystery, 
211-219 ; as an event, 219-228. 

Antonio, Marc, see Raimondi. 

Apostles, represented in Madonna pictures, 
39, 133 ; carry body of the Virgin to the 
tomb, 346-347. 

Apple, symbolism in art, 36. 

Arabian work, on History of Joseph, 
quoted, 307, 308. 

Arnobius, the younger, his commentary on 
the Psalms cited, 261. 

Ascension, the, 332. 

Assumption of the Virgin, legend of, 13, 
4G, 33G-339 ; scenes afforded by, 339 ; as 
the expression of a dogma, 348 ; as the 
consummation of the Virgin's life, 348 ; 
treatment of, in art, 352-358. 

Augustine, St., Sermons quoted, 4. 

Auxilium Christianorum, introduction of, 

Ave Maria, introduction of, 13. 

Baillet, cited, 100 ; his Fttes Mobiles quoted, 
322 note. 

Barbara, St., in Madonna pictures, 145. 

Baroccio, Federigo, Madonna by, 37, 127 ; 
Annunciation, 222 ; Riposo, 276. 

Bartolo, Taddeo, Death of the Virgin, 47, 
48, 342 ; use of olive in Annunciation, 
217 ; Apostles carry the body of the 
Virgin to the tomb, 346 ; Assumption of 
ttie Virgin, 353. 

Bartolommeo (of Florence) Annunciation 
attributed to, 213. 

Bartolommeo (Baccio della Porta), Miseri- 
cordia di Lucca, 91 ; two Madonnas in 
Trono, 144; Madonna, 170; Annuncia- 
tion, 217 ; Presentation, 266. 

Bartolozzi, engraving after Vandyck, 288. 

Bartsch, Adam, Le Peinire Graveur cited, 
40 note, 262 note, 301. 

Bazzi, G. A., Presentation of the Virgin in 
the Temple, 52 ; Visitation, 53 ; Assump- 
tion, 53 ; Coronation, 53. 

Beccafumi, Domenico, Sposalizio by, 52 ; 
Enthroned Virgin and Child, 52. 

Bellini, Giovanni, Madonna by, 124 ; char- 
acteristics of, 163, 164 ; three Madonnas 
by, 164 ; his excellence in Mater Ama- 
bilis, 169 ; Madonna by, 174. 

Bellini School, Madonna, 163. 

Beltraffio, Gio. Antonio, Votive Madonna, 
243 note. 

Bernard, St., cited, 15 ; quoted, 34 note, 
245 ; author of Salve llegina, 62 ; his dis- 
approbation of the festival of the Immac- 
ulate Conception, 100 ; his objections to 
the invocation of saints born before 
Christ, 184 ; his account of the Annun- 
ciation, 225. 

Bernardino dei Conti, Madonna of Ludo- 
vico Sforza il Moro, 156, 157. 

Bertucci of Faenza, Glorification of the 
Virgin, 132 note. 

Bianchi, Pietro, Immaculate Conception, 

Bianchi, Dr. Giuseppe, his work on the 
Prato frescoes cited, 350 note. 

Bible, quoted, 28, 29, 32-35, 38-41, 61, 
69, 73, 74, 82, 107 note, 109, 110, 134, 



137, 1G0, 175, 108 note, 220, 225, 226, 
228, 236, 241, 244, 246-248, 250, 261, 262, 
263, 264, 268, 269, 271, 284, 286, 290, 296 

note, 300, 306, 307, 309, 312, 317 note, 
327, 330, 332, 338, 344, 346 ; cited, 93, 192 

note, 198 note, '245, 261, 304, 313. 

Birds, their symbolism in art, 37, 127. 

Bodenhausen, Madonna by, 130 note. 

Bonasone, Ginlio, Wise Men watching for 
Star, '21)2 note; engraving after Parmi- 
giauo, 347. 

Bonaventura, St., cited, 15, 303. 

Bonifazio, the Virgin in Glory, 134 ; Ma- 
donna, 181. 

Bonvicino, see Moretto. 

Book, symbolism of, :!."», :>('> ; examples of, 
significance in art, 68, 70, 124, 125. 

Borbeg, K. F., Neu Teatamenliehen Apo- 
krypnen oited, 307 note. 

Bordone, Paris, Madonna by, 181. 

Borgognone, Ambrogio, Marriage of St. 
Catherine, 145 ; Assumption of the 
Virgin, 357. 

Bosio, cited, 12 note, 230. 

Botticelli, Sandro, Coronation by, 80 ; 
Madonna of the Ink Horn, 1G5 ; Na- 
tivity, 243 ; Adoration of Magi, 256 ; 
Holy Family, 290. 

Bouguereau, W. A., Vierge Consolatrice, 
87 note ; Madonna by, 130. 

Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, quoted, 289. 

Browning, Robert, quoted, 32. 

Brun, Le, Charles, Immaculate Conception, 
107 ; Benedicite, 1501. 

Buonarroti, Michael Angelo, his genius 
allied to Dante, 22 ; Pieta, 40, 94 ; Pieta, 
96 ; Last Judgment, 87 ; Holy Family, 
137 ; Annunciation, 227 ; Visitation, 
230 ; Silenzio, 2S9 ; three Holy Families, 

Burne- Jones, Sir E., Annunciation by, 228. 

Byron, quoted, 220 note. 

Cambiaso, Luca, Holy Family, 288. 

Cana, see Marriage. 

Capanna, Puccio, Madonna and Child, 122. 

Caracci, Apparition of Christ to his Mother, 

Caracci, Agostino, Madonna by, 288 ; As- 
sumption, 355. 

Caracci, Annibal, his Coronation of the 
Virgin, SO ; as student of Correggio, 81 ; 
Adoration of Shepherds, 248 ; first to in- 
troduce boat into Flight into Egypt, 274 : 
Vierge aux Cerises, '292 ; '• Le Raboteur," 
294 ; Four Maries, 323 ; Assumption of 
the Virgin, 355. 

Caracci, Ludovico, Madonna by, 30 ; Ado- 
ration of Shepherds, 248 ; the Virgin la- 
menting the Death of the Saviour, 32(5 ; 
Heath of the Virgin, 340 ; Apostles carry 
the body of the Virgin to the tomb, 347. 

Caracci, influence of their school, 23 ; their 
treatment of the Mater Amabilis, 170. 

Caraglio, Gio. Giacomo, Holy Family, 135. 

Oarayaggio, Michael Angelo Amerighi da, 
Madonna of the Rosary, 151 ; Death of 
the Virgin, 34G. 

Carducho, quoted, 42. 

Carducho, Vincenzo, the Virgin on the tree 
of life, 150. 

Cariani, Giovanni de' Busi, completed 
Palma'a Adoration of Magi, 258. 

Caniiine, Madonna del, 151. 

Carotto, Christ taking leave of his Mother, 

Carpaccio, Vittore, Meeting of Joachim 
and Anna, 192 ; Presentation of the 
Virgin, 19S. 

Catherine, St., in Madonna pictures, 143- 

Cavallini, Piero, Annunciations by, 213 

Cavazzola, Paolo (or Morando), the Virgin 
in Glory, 149, 150. 

Cerezo, Matteo de, two pictures of the 
Virgin in cherry-tree, 150 note. 

Cesare da Sesto, Madonna by, 34. 

Cesi, Vision of St. Anna, 185. 

Champaigne, Philippe de, Mater Dolorosa, 
94, 95. 

Chaucer, Geoffrey, quoted, 17. 

Chelini, Piero, Deposition attributed to by 
Von Rumohr, 325 note. 

Christ, mediaeval explanation of his mirac- 
ulous birth, 4 ; represented in the Coro- 
nation of the Virgin, 73-81 ; nativity of, 
237-247 ; adoration of, by shepherds, 248, 
249 ; adoration of, by Magi, 250-202 ; pres- 
entation of, in temple, 262-268 ; among 
the doctors, 304-307 ; his traditionary 
account of Joseph's death, 308 ; repre- 
sented in the marriage at Cana, 309-312 ; 
ministry of, 312, 313 ; taking leave of his 
mother, 313; his bearing of the cross, 
315-317 ; his crucifixion, 317-319; his de- 
scent from the cross, 319-322 ; his depo- 
sition, 322-324 ; his entombment, 324 ; 
apparition of, to his mother, 328-331 ; 
ascension of, 332 ; represented in death 
of the Virgin, 342. 

Christopher, St., in Madonna pictures, 146. 

Ciampini, Giovanni Giustino, cited, 116 

Cicognara, Storia della Scultura Moderna 
cited, 121. 

Cignani, Carlo, Madonna and Child, 170. 

Chnabue, Ruccellai Madonna, 14, 119, 120, 
131 ; Academy Madonna, 119, 132 ; An- 
nunciation, 224 ; Visitation, 230 ; Death 
of the Virgin, 342. 

Coleridge, S. T., his translation of a Latin 
verse on Flemish print, 302 note. 

Conegliano, Cima da, Nativity by, 242. 

Constance, council of, influence on worship 
of the Virgin, 19. 

Coronation of the Virgin, 72-84, 358-360 ; 
legend brought from East, 13 ; devotional 
treatment distinguished from historical, 
72, 358, 359 ; examples of treatment, 73- 
84, 359, 360. 

Correggio, Antonio Allegri, "Vierge au 
Panier," GO, 298 ; " The Day," 143 ; Ma- 
donna with St. Francis, 149 ; Madonna of 
St. Sebastian, 154 ; Madonna of St. 
George, 155, 156; Madre Pia, 177,178; 
" La Notte," 247 ; " Madonna della Sco- 
della," 27G ; Madonna, 288; Ecce Homo, 
310, 317 ; Assumption of the Virgin, 354. 

Cortona, Pietro da, Sibyl's Prophecy, 238. 

Costa, Lorenzo, Madonna della Famiglia 
Beutivoglio, 156 ; Adoration of Magi, 261. 



Cotignola, Francesco da, see Zaganelli. 

Cotignola, Girolamo, Immaculate Concep- 
tion, 109, 110 ; notes on life and style, 111 
note ; Sposalizio, 207. 

Cranach, Lucas, two paintings of the Re- 
pose in Egypt, 277, 278. 

Credi, Lorenzo di, altar-piece, 80 ; St. Ju- 
lian and St. Nicholas, 80 ; excelled in 
Madre Pia, 17G ; excelled in poetical 
version of Nativity, 242. 

Crespi, Daniele, Portamento della Croce, 

Crivelli, Carlo, his use of gold, 12G ; Ma- 
donna, 129 ; altar-piece, 141. 

Crosnier, l'Abbe, his Iconographie Chre- 
tienne cited, 125 note. 

Crowe and Cavalcaselle cited, 132 note, 165 
note ; their Raphuel cited, 59 note, 82 
note ; their History of Painting in North 
Italy cited, 79 note, 142 note, 149 note, 
150 note, 179 note ; their History of 
Painting in Italy cited, 272 note, 300 
note, 325 note. 

Crucifixion, the, 317-319 ; the fifth sorrow 
of the Virgin, 317. 

Crusades, influence on art, 13. 

Curtis, Charles B., his Velasquez and Mu- 
rillo cited, 170 note. 

Cyril of Alexandria, his part in Nestorian 
controversy, 10, 114, 115. 

Daddi, Nardo, Last Judgment, 8G note. 

D'Agincourt, see Seroux. 

Dagnan-Bouveret, Madonna by, 173. 

Damascene, St. John, as defender of sacred 
images, 11. 

Dante, quoted, 4 note, 16, 17, 30, 5G note, 
224, 22G, 30G, 358 ; his influence on Italian 
art, 15 ; his genius allied to Michael An- 
gelo, 22 ; cited, 38. 

David, Gerard, worship of the Magi, 25G. 

Defregger, Franz, Madonna by, 130 note; 
Holy Family, 294. 

Delaroche, Paul, Deposition by, 324. 

Dennistoun, Dukes of Urbino cited, 110 

Deposition, the, 322-324. 

De Rossi, cited, 8, 113 note. 

Descent from the Cross, 319-322. 

Diana, Benedetto, Virgin and Child en- 
throned, 149 note. 

Didron cited, 200, 2GG ; his Christian Icono- 
graphy cited, 12, 85 and note, 190 ; his 
Manual of Greek Art quoted, 310. 

Diptych, defined, 43. 

Dispute in the Temple, 304-307. 

Domeuichino, painted his daughter as the 
Madonna, 2G ; Riposo by, 27G ; death of 
the Virgin, 34G. 

Donatello, window designed by, 7G note ; 
Nativities, 242. 

Dossi, Dosso, Vision of the Four Fathers, 

Dove, symbolism in art, 3G, 37. 

Dream of Joseph, see Joseph. 

Dress, of Virgin, see Virgin Mary ; of Christ 
Child, 126. 

Duns Scotus, as champion of the Virgin, 
100, 106. 

Diirer, Albert, Life of the Virgin, 54, 200 ; 
Madonna, 171, 172 ; Joachim rejected 

from the Temple, 189 ; Joachim receiving 
the Annunciation of the Angel, 190 ; meet- 
ing of Joachim and Anna, 191 ; Birth of 
the Virgin, 194; Presentation of the 
Virgin, 198,200 ; Annunciation, 223, 224 ; 
Adoration of Magi, 258 ; Flight into 
Egypt, 270 ; Repose in Egypt, 278 ; Holy 
Family, 300 ; Christ among the Doctors, 
307 ; Christ taking leave of his Mother, 
313, 314 ; Crucifixion, 318, 319 ; Descent 
from the Cross, 321 ; Deposition, 323 ; 
Apparition of Christ to his Mother, 330, 
331 ; two pictures of Death of the Virgin, 
343, 344 ; Assumption of the Virgin, 354 ; 
Coronation of the Virgin, 359. 

Edelinck, engraving of Le Brim's Bene- 
dicite, 301. 

Education of the Virgin, 196. 

Elizabeth, character of, 229; introduced 
into Holy Family, 295. 

Entombment, of Christ, 324 ; of the Virgin, 

Ephesus, Council of, 10, 115, 117. 

Etruria Pittrice cited, 148, 299 note, 347, 
357 note. 

Evangelists, represented in Madonna pic- 
tures, 39, 133. 

Eyck, Van, the brothers, Ghent altar- 
piece, 68 and note, 69. 

Eyck, John van, his tendency to portraiture 
in sacred subjects, 21 note ; Madonna 
(attributed to), 123, 124 ; votive Madonna 
(attributed to), 1G0 ; Vierge an Donateur, 
161 ; Annunciation, 221, 227 ; Ghent An- 
nunciation, 227. 

Fabriano, Gentile da, Madonna by, 132. 

Farrar, F. W., Life of Christ in Art, cited, 

Ferrari, Gaudenzio, introduced court dwarf 
into Adoration of Kings, 255 ; Flight into 
Egypt, 275 : Portamento della Croce, 
316 ; Assumption of the Virgin, 354. 

Feti, Domenico, Return from Egypt, 283. 

Finiguerra, Maso, his pyx, 82. 

Flaxman, Annunciation by, 226. 

Flight into Egypt, 268-275 ; general treat- 
ment of, 270, 271 ; legends connected 
with, 271-274. 

Florentine School, Immaculate Conception, 

Flos Sanctorum, cited, 101, 250 note. 

Forster, Ernst, Denkmale der Deutschen 
Kurtst, cited, 124 note. 

Francesca, Piero della, Madonna di Miseri- 
cord ia, 89, 90. 

Franeia, Francesco Raibolini, Madonna, 
34 ; Pieta, 95; Predestination of the Vir- 
gin, 108; Madonna, 134, 135; Madre 
Pia, 177, 178 ; Annunciation, 217 ; ex- 
celled in poetical version of Nativity, 
242 ; Presentation in the Temple, 2GG, 

Franeia, Giacomo, Madonna and Saints, 

Franeia, school of, Madonna, 143. 

Franeiabigio, frescoes in Annunziata, 52 

Frizzoni cited, 132 note, 272 note. 

Froschl, treatment of Mater Amabilis, 171. 



Gaddi, Agnolo, History of Holy Girdle, SI, 
;;.".(i 352; the Virgin in the Temple, 200 ; 
Nativity, 247. 

Gaddi, Gaddo, mosaic, 75. 

Gaddi, Taddeo, Life of the Virgin, 48, 49 ; 
Madonna, 132. ; Joachim rejected from 
the Temple, 188 ; Joachim receiving the 
Annunciation of the Angel, 190 ; meeting 
of Joachim and Anna, 192 ; Birth of the 
Virgin, 194; Presentation of the Virgin, 
11)7 ; Marriage of the Virgin, 200; The 
Wise Men and the Star, 2.">1 ; Baptism of 
the Magi by St. Thomas, 201 ; the Virgin 
and St. John, 327. 

Garden, significance of, 34. 

Garofalo, Madonna by, 127 ; Marriage of 
St. Catherine, 144 ; Annunciation, 222 ; 
Sibyl's Prophecy, 238 ; Kiposo, 279 ; Holy 
Family, 293 ; Christ among the Doctors, 

Gaye, Garteggio, 298 note. 

Geminiano, St., significance of, in Madonna 
pictures, 164, 156. 

Genga, Girolamo, the Virgin attended by 
Four Doctors, 143 note. 

George, St., in Madonna pictures, 140, 154; 
in Correggio's Madonna di San Giorgio, 

Gerson, his defence of worship of the Vir- 
gin, 19 ; his poem in praise of St. Joseph, 

Ghirlandajo, David, Annunciation by, 212. 

Ghirlandajo, Donienico, his tendency to 
portraiture in sacred subjects, 21 note ; 
Life of the Virgin, 50, 51 ; Joachim re- 
jected from the Temple, 189 ; Birth of the 
Virgin, 194; Presentation of the Virgin, 
198 ; Marriage of the Virgin, 206, 207 ; 
Visitation, 231 ; Adoration of the Magi, 
257 ; Death of the Virgin, 343 ; Legend 
of the Girdle, 352; Assumption of the 
Virgin, 353. 

Ghirlandajo, Ridolfo, Coronation, SO ; meet- 
ing of Joachim and Anna, 192. 

Giordano, Luca, Flight into Egypt, 274. 

Giorgione, Die drei morgenl'andischen Wei- 
sen, 201, 262 ; Kiposo attributed to, 279. 

Giottino, Holy Family attributed to by 
Rosini, 290 ; Deposition attributed to, 

Giotto, Arena chapel frescoes, 47, 54 ; 
paintings of Coronation of the Virgin, 50, 
70 ; Madonna, 147 ; Joachim receh ing the 
Annunciation of the Angel, 190 ; Suitors 
of the Virgin, 205 note ; three scenes from 
the Marriage of the Virgin, 200 and note ; 
Return of Marriage Procession, 207 ; 
Flight into Egypt, 270 ; Christ among 
the Doctors, attributed to, 305, 300 ; 
Ascension, 332 ; Death of the Virgin, 342. 

Giovanni di San Giovanni, Encounter with 
the Robbers, 274. 

Girdle, the Holy, legend of, 349-352. 

Giulio, Romano, Virgin with archangels, 
140; Nativity, 243; La Madonna del 
Badno, 300. 

Globe, symbolism of, in art, 35. 

Goethe, cited, 288, 330. 

Golden Legend, compiled, 15. 

Gori, Thesaurus cited, 240, note. 

Gospel of Infancy, cited, 40, 273. 

Gozzoli, Benozzo, Madonna by, 147, 150; 
Annunciation, 218 ; Journey of the Magi, 

(iranaeei, Francesco, Madonna by, 125; 
Assumption of the Virgin, 357. 

Gregory Thaumaturgus, St., vision of, Gl 

Gaeroino, Madonna by, 37 ; the Virgin and 
St. Peter lamenting the death of the Sa- 
viour, 326 ; Apparition of Christ to his 
Mother, 330. 

Hallam, History of the Literature of Eu- 
rope cited, 240, 241. 

Helena, Empress, brought remains of Magi 
to Cologne, 25;!. 

Heller, Alhrecht Diirer, cited, 345 note. 

Holbein, Hans (the elder), Coronation, 83. 

Holbein, Hans, Meyer Madonna, 31, 157. 

Holy Family, 284-304 ; distinguished from 
Riposo, 276 ; a fifteenth century subject, 
2(i, 284 ; devotional treatment of, distin- 
guished from domestic, 285, 280; with 
two figures, 2SG-2J0 ; with three figures, 
290-295 ; with four figures, 295, 290 ; with 
five or six figures, 290, 297 ; under aspect 
of carpenter's family, 301. 

Holy Ghost, descent of, 332, 333. 

Hopfer, David, Repose in Egypt, 278 ; Holy 
Family, 301. 

Iconoclasts, schism of, 11, 12, 11G. 

Immaculate Conception, 99-111 ; origin of 
the doctrine, 25, 99-102 ; teachings of, 
29 ; dress of the Virgin in, 41, 102 ; exam- 
ples of, 103-107, 110 ; distinguished from 
Predestination, 108. 

Ittenbach, Maria Virgo, 202, 294 ; Holy 
Family, 294. 

Jameson, Anna, IFandbook to the Private 
Galleries of Art cited, 25 note. 

Jerome, St., representing sanctification 
through faith, 82 ; his place in Madonna 
pictures, 143. 

Jesuitism, influence on art, 2G. 

Joachim, St., legend of, 13, 184-192; his 
rejection from the temple represented, 
188, 189 ; his reception of the angel's 
message represented, 189, 190 ; meeting 

" with Anna, 190-192. 

John the Baptist, representing sanctifica- 
tion through baptism, 82 ; as patron 
saint of Florence, 84 ; his place in Ma- 
donna pictures, 133, 134 ; with St. John 
the Evangelist, 141, 142 ; as a child in 
Madonna pictures, 173-170 ; legend of 
Herod's intention to destroy, 269 ; intro- 
duced as a child into Holy Family, 290; 
introduced with St. Elizabeth into Holy 
Family, 295. 

John, St., the Evangelist, in Madonna pic- 
tures, 133, 141, 142 ; tradition of his mar- 
riage at Cana, 309 ; conducting the Vir- 
gin home, 327 ; administering the sacra- 
ment to the Virgin, 333. 

Joseph, St., his place in Madonna pictures, 
130, 137; character of , 203 ; how repre- 
sented in art, 203, 204 ; marriage of, with 
Mary, 204, 20.",; dream of, 235-237 ; his 
place in the Nativity, 242, 240; question 



of his presence in Adoration of Magi, 25G ; 
his second angelic vision, 209 ; his care 
of the child in Flight into Egypt, 270 ; his 
residence in Nazareth, 284 ; his figure in- 
troduced into Holy Family, 291-294 ; fes- 
tival' instituted in honor of, 292 ; as a 
sixth figure in Holy Family, 296 ; death 
of, 307-309 ; introduced as a figure in 
Marriage at Cana, 310. 

Josephus, quoted, 197 ; cited, 273. 

Justin Martyr cited, 303. 

Kenyon, John, A Gypsy Carol cited, 283. 

Kugler, P. T., Handbook of Italian Schools 
quoted, 24, 54 note, 118 ; cited, 53 note, 
07 note, 70 note, 75 note, 82 note, 80 
note, 298 note. 

Lanf ranco, Gio. , Madonna of Mercy, 92 ; 
Assumption of the Virgin, 355. 

Lanzi, cited, 90, 110. 

Lasinio, his Ancient Florentine Blasters 
cited, 51 note ; his engraving of Ghirlan- 
dajo's Birth of the Virgin referred to, 

Laurati, see Lorenzetti. 

Legends of the Monastic Orders cited, 14 
note, 51 note, 50 note, 01, 71, 75, 78 note, 
98, 104, 144, 150, 151 , 150, 192, 213, 358. 

Leonardo da Vinci, Holy Family, 135, 295 ; 
Virgin of the Rocks, 174 ; Adoration of 
Magi, 250. 

Leonardo school, Madonna, 175. 

Leyden, Lucas van, Madonna, 173 ; Visita- 
tion, 232 ; Adoration of Magi, 200 ; Re- 
pose in Egypt, 277 ; Procession to Cal- 
vary, 310. 

Lily, symbol of the Virgin, 34, 147, 222. 

Lindsay, Lord, his Sketches of Christian 
Art cited, 54 note, 08 and note, 130 note ; 
quoted, 352. 

Lippi, Filippo, Coronation, 82, 359 ; Ma- 
donna of Mercy, 89, 90 ; Madonna, 178 ; 
angel announcing to the Virgin her ap- 
proaching death, 340. 

Lippi, Filippino, Madonna attributed to, 

Litta, History of the Italian Families cited , 
150 note ; Memorials of Bentivogli cited, 
243 note. 

Lorenzetti, Ambrogio, Deposition by, 323. 

Loi-enzetti, Pietro (Laurati), Coronation 
by, 70. 

Lorenzo di Pavia, Family of the Virgin 
Mary, 297. 

Lorenzo di San Severino, Marriage of St. 
Catherine, 144. 

Loretto, Casa di, legend of, 59. 

Lorraine, Claude, Flight into Egypt, 275. 

Lothener, Maister Stephen, Cologne altar- 
piece, 211, 210. 

Luini, Bernardo, Madonna by, 34 note ; Life 
of the Virgin, 54 ; Joachim rejected from 
the Temple, 189 ; Joachim receiving the 
Annunciation of the Angel, 190; Alterca- 
tion between St. Anna and Judith, 190; 
the Virgin in the Temple, 200 ; the Virgin 
and the High Priest, 201 ; Return of Mar- 
riage Procession, 207, 208 ; Dream of Jo- 
seph, 230 ; Marriage at Cana, 310. 

Luke, St., legend of, as painter, 27. 

Mabuse, Jan van, devotional picture, 55; 
Adoration of Magi, 200. 

Macomber, Mary L., Madonna Enthroned, 

Madonna, origin and history of effigies of, 
1-32 ; prototypes of in early religions, 3 ; 
earliest instances of worship of, 5 ; earli- 
est representations of, 5-9, 113-121 ; sup- 
posed authentic portrait of, 10 ; effigies 
of, on coins, 12; Madonna purissima, 
109 ; Madonna with Child, 112-183 ; en- 
throned with Child, 112-100; standing 
with Child, 121, 122 ; Madonna in Gloria 
distinguished from Madonna in Trono, 
129 ; enthroned with angels, 131, 132 ; en- 
throned with personages of Old Law, 133 ; 
with evangelists and apostles, 133 ; with 
St. John the Baptist, 133, 134 ; with St. 
Anna, 135, 130 ; with St. Joseph, 130, 137 ; 
with other saints, 138-147 ; Florentine pic- 
tures of, 147 ; Sienese pictures of, 147 ; 
pictures of, in Lombardy, 148 ; in Spanish 
and Flemish art, 148 ; pictures of, dedi- 
cated by religious orders, 148-151 ; pic- 
tures of, as votive offerings, 151-103 ; Ma- 
donna del Parto, 240. See also the sub- 
jects Virgin Mary, Votive Madonna, Mater 
Doloroso, Misericordia, Mater Amabilis, 
Madre Pia, Sacra Conversazione, Regina 
Coeli, Regina Angelorum, Holy Family. 

Madre Pia, 124, 170-178 ; distinguished 
from Nativity, 241. 

Magdalene, St. Mary, in Madonna pictures, 
145, 140. 

Magi, adoration of, 250-2G2 ; names of, 

Maiano, Benedetto, Annunciation by, 218. 

Mainardi, Bastiano, Assumption by, 50, 352. 

Malvasia, Felsina Pittrice cited, 25 note, 

Mantegna, Andrea, Madonna of Victory, 
152, 153 ; Madonna, 172. 

Maratti, Carlo, Marriage of St. Catherine, 
144 ; Madonna, 170 ; Death of Joseph, 
308 ; Death of the Virgin, 340. 

Marriage at Cana, 309-312. 

Marriage of the Virgin,.202-208 ; represen- 
tations of, 205-208. 

Maso di Banco, Deposition attributed to by 
Milanesi, 325 note. 

Massacre of Innocents, introduced into 
Flight into Egypt and Riposo, 209. 

Massari, Lucio, Riposo by, 270. 

Massys, Quentin, Madonna by, 100. 

Mater Amabilis, 100-183; Greek pictures of, 
107, 108; Raphael's supremacy in, 1G8 ; 
as treated by Bellini, Luini, and Squar- 
cione, 109 ; as treated by Bartolommeo, 
170 ; by Caracci and Vaudyck, 170 ; 
modern examples of, 173. 

Mater Dolorosa, 92-98, 317, 320. 

Mater Sapienti;«, see Virgin Mary. 

Max, Gabriel, Mater Amabilis by, 171. 

Meliton, poem of, cited, 40. 

Mellone, Antonello, Flight into Egypt, 274. 

Mending, Hans, Seven Joys, 55 ami note, 
272 ; Seven Sorrows, 55 and note ; Coro- 
nation (attributed to), 78 ; altar-piece, 
144 ; votive Madonna (?), 100; Adoration 
of Kings, 257. 

Meniuii, Simone, Annunciation, 52 note, 



21G, 217 ; Madonna (attributed to), G7, 08 ; 

Christ among the Doctors, 30G. 
Mendula (or tteldula), Madonna, ill. 
Mengs, Raphael, Adoration ot Bnepaerda, 


Menologium, miniature in, '245 ; cited, 349 

Mery, Abbe, ThSologis dot Peinlres cited, 
216, 303. 

Michael Angelo, see Buonarroti. 

Michael, St., and St. Gabriel, represented 
with Madonna, 138-140. 

Milanesi, Professor, cited, 326 note. 

Milano, Giovanni da, Lite of the Virgin, 50. 

Million, Richard Monckton, quoted, 170. 

Milton, .John, quoted, 29 note, 313 ; cited, 
222, 24S. 

Ministry of Christ, 312, 313. 

MJaerioordia, Madoiuia di, 87-91, 140, 151, 

Mocchi, Statue of the Virgin, '115. 

Modena, Niccolo da, engravings of Life of 
the Virgin, 54. 

Mola, Pietro Franceaco, Repose in Egypt, 

Monaco, Lorenzo, Annunciation, 213 ; Flight 
into Egypt, 270. 

Montagna, Bartolonimeo, Virgin and Child 
Enthroned. 146, 147. 

Moon, symbol of the Virgin, 33 ; in Immac- 
ulate Conception, 102 ; Murillo's treat- 
ment of, 103. 

Morales, Ins excellence in representing 
Mater Dolorosa, 25. 

Morelli, Giovanni, his Critical Studies 
of Italian I'aintefs cited, 91 note, 258 

Moretto (Bonvicino), Madonna of Mercy, 90 
note ; Madonna with Four Fathers, 142, 

Midler, Carl, Madonna of the Grotto, 173 ; 
Holy Family, 295. 

Midler, Franz, his Virgin, 202. 

Mi'inter, Friedrich, Siiinbitder cited, 11G 
note, 240 note. 

Hunts, Eugene, Raphael cited, 70 note, 82 
note, 95 note, 1G4 note, 298 note. 

Murano, Giovanni ed Antonio da, Madonna, 
79 note, 142 note. 

Murillo, his excellence as painter of Im- 
maculate Conception, 25, 103 ; as a painter 
of maternity, 25 ; as painter of Mater 
Amabilis, 170 ; Madonna of the Rosary, 
68, 151 ; Madonna della Neve, 68, 5<J ; 
Virgin of the Napkin, GO ; Immaculate 
Conceptions, 100; Madonna Purissima, 
109; Madonna, 170; Madonna attributed 
to, 170 note ; Education of the Virgin, 
196; devotional Holy Family, 285 ; Holy 
Family, 294 ; Holy Family, 300 ; Proces- 
sion to Calvary, 31G. 

Murray's Handbooks cited, 91 note, 105 
note, 111 note. 

Mysteries, see Rosary. 

Nanni di Banco, Glorified Virgin, 349. 
Natiiitatr Domini, />■, cited, 246. 
Nativity, of the Virgin, 193-196; of Christ, 

237-247; as a mystery, 241-244; as an 

event, 244-247. 
Neander, Church History cited, 113. 

Negroponte, Antonio da, Madonna by, 34 
note, 12S. 

N'estorian Controversy, 10, 113-117. 

Nice, Council of, 12. 

Nicephorua CsJUrtus cited, 30, 40. 

Nicholas, St., in Madonna pictures, 140. 

Nunc Diniittis, Greek title of the Presenta- 
tion, 200. 

Orcagna, Andrea Cione, Life of the Virgin, 
54 ; Last Judgment attributed to, 8G 
note; Presentation of the Virgin, 197; 
Angel announcing to the Virgin her ap- 
proaching death, 339, 340; Assumption 
of the Virgin, 349. 

Orsini, Abbe, his description of the Mar- 
riage of the Virgin, 205 ; his Vie de la 
Ste, Vierge cited, 274. 

Ottley, History of Engraving cited, 84. 

Our Lady, origin of title, 14. 

Pacchia, Girolamo del, Birth of the Virgin, 
52 ; Annunciation, 52. 

Pacheco quoted, 41, 100; Arte de la 
1'iutnra cited, 102 ; rules cited, 105. 

Palina, Giacomo (*' 11 Vecchio "), Madonnas 
by, 180, 181, 182; Adoration of Magi, 
258 ; Holy Family, 295 ; Assumption of 
the Virgin, 355. 

Parmigiano, Madonna del lungo Collo, 23; 
Madonna, 182 ; Adoration of Magi, 250 ; 
Family of the Virgin Mary, 297 ; Apostles 
carry the Body of the Virgin to the Tomb, 

Passavant, J. D., Rafael cited, 70 note, 82 ; 
310 note. 

Patriarchs, represented in Madonna pic- 
tures, 133. 

Paul, St., with St. Peter in Madonna pic- 
tures, 118, 140, 141 ; favorite saint of the 
Benedictines, 148. 

Paul V. promulgates doctrine of Immacu- 
late Conception, 101. 

Pellegrino, Madonna by, 149. 

Perate, Arclucoloyie Chretienne cited, 113 

Perfetlo Legendario, II, cited, 225 note ; 
quoted, 329-330 note. 

Perugino, Pietro, altar-piece, 140, 177 ; 
Virgin Enthroned, 142; Madonna attri- 
buted to, 105; Marriage of the Virgin, 
200 ; Family of the Virgin Mary, 297 ; 
Deposition, 323. 

Peruzzi, Baldassare, Sibyl's Prophecy, 238, 
239 ; Adoration of Magi, 257 ; frescoes of 
S. Onofrio attributed to, 272 note. 

Peter, St., and St. Paul, in Madonna pic- 
tures, 118,140, 141. 

Petrarch quoted, 18. 

Pieta, 94-98, 322. 

Pinturicchio, Bernardino, Madonna by, 20; 
Life of the Virgin, 51 ; Coronation, 77, 
80 ; the Virgin ill the Temple, 202 ; two 
Visitations, 232; Flight into Egypt, at- 
tributed to, 272; Holy Family, 298; 
Christ among the Doctors, 300. 

Pionibo, Sebastian del, Visitation by, 231. 

Pisano Giunta, Assumption of the Virgin. 

Pisano, Niccolo, Madonna by, 121. 

Pomegranate, symbolism of, in art, 3G. 



Pontormo, frescoes in Annunziata, 52 note. 

Pordenone, Giovanni Antonio da, Madonna 
del Carmine, 151. 

Portraits, in sacred art, 21 ; Ghirlandajo's 
custom of introducing into pictures, 21 
note, 189, 194 ; introduced into Andrea 
del Sarto's pictures, 21 note, 195 ; Andrea 
Sabbatini's use of, in Visitation, 233 ; in- 
troduced into Francia's Madonna, 243 ; 
introduced into Gerard David's Adora- 
tion, 250. 
Poussin, Nicholas, Madonna of the Pillar, 
59 ; how he treated the marriage of the 
Virgin, 207 ; Annunciation, 227 ; repre- 
sents the Virgin standing in the Adoration 
of the Magi, 261 ; Flight into Egypt, 270 ; 
Flight into Egypt, 271 ; three paintings of 
Repose in Egypt. 278, 279 ; ten paintings 
of Holy Family, 295 ; Holy Family, 300. 

Predestination of the Virgin, 108, 109. 

Presentation, of the Virgin, 197, 200 ; of 
» Christ, 2G2-2G8. 

Procession to Calvary, 315-317. 

Prophets, represented in Madonna pictures, 
38, 39, 133. 

Protevangelion cited, 4G, 200, 204, 220, 
240, 245. 

Provencal Ballad of the Gypsies, 280, 282. 

Puligo, Domenico, Madonna by, 148. 

Purification of the Virgin, 2G2-2G8 ; spe- 
cially distinguished by turtle doves, 2GG. 

Raimondi, Marc Antonio, engraving d 
Pieta after Raphael, 40 note, 95 ; en- 
graving of Madonna after Raphael, 287. 

Raphael, St., meaning of in Madonna pic- 
tures, 140. 

Raphael, fresco of Theology, 21 ; Madonna 
di San Sisto, 24, 31, 159; Madonna del 
Cardellino, 37, 290 ; Pieta, 40 note ; Ma- 
donna del Impannata, 59 ; Madonna di 
Foligno, GO, 158, 159 ; Connestabile Ma- 
donna, GO, 1G9 ; Disputa, 69 ; cartoons, 
82 ; Coronation of the Virgin (tapestry), 
82 ; drawing of Pieta, 95 ; Madonna dell' 
Pesce, 139, 140; Madonna del Baldacchino, 
149 ; Madonna della Seggiola, 1G4, 172 ; 
Madonna della Candelabra, 164 ; Madonna 
del Gran-Duca, 168 ; Madonna Tempi, 
1G8; Bridgewater Madonna, 1G8, 292; 
Madonna della Casa Alba, 175 ; Madonna 
of the Meadow, 175 ; Sposalizio, 206 ; An- 
nunciation, 222, 227 ; Visitation, 231 ; 
Adoration of Shepherds, 248 ; Adoration 
of Magi, 257 ; design of Madonna, 287 ; 
La Belle Jardiniere, 290 ; Garvagh 
Madonna, 290, 291 ; Vierge a la Diademe, 
291 ; Madonna di Loretto, 292, 293 ; 
Madonna del Passeggio, 295 ; Holy 
Family of Francis I., 298 ; Lo Spasimo di 
Sicilia, 315 ; drawing of Deposition, 
321, 322; Entombment, 323 note, 324; 
Deposition, 32G ; Assumption of the 
Virgin, 353 ; Coronation of the Virgin 
attributed to, 359. 

Razzi, G. A., see Bazzi. 

Bedford, George, Art Sales cited, 37. 80 
note, 111, 192 note, 31G, 357 note. 

Regina Angelorum, 71. 

Regina Coeli, 70, 71, 84, 125. 

Rembrandt, Annunciation, 227 ; Visitation, 

234 ; Angels appearing to the Shepherds, 
247 ; Adoration of Magi, 261 ; Flight 
into Egypt, 273 ; Repose in Egypt, 279 ; 
Le Manage du Menuisier, 294 ; another 
Menage du Menuisier, 301. 

Rembrandt school, Vision of Jacob, 247- 
note ; Repose in Egypt, 279. 

Rene, King, Votive Madonna by, 160, 1G1, 

Reni, Guido, enthusiasm for the Virgin, 
24 ; excelled in Immaculate Conception, 
25, 105 ; Madonna of the Rosary, 58 ; 
Coronation, 80 ; Pieta, 98 ; his paint- 
ings of the Immaculate Conception, 104, 
105, 107 ; II Pallione del Voto, 155 ; his 
Virgins better than his children, 170 ; 
Madonna, 175 ; the Virgin as a young 
girl, 200 ; allegorical picture, 216 ; Pre- 
sentation in the Temple, 268 ; Apparition 
of Christ to his Mother, 330 ; Assump- 
tions, 356 ; Immaculate Conception, 356. 

Repose of the Holy Family (Riposo), 275- 
283 ; not an ancient subject, 275 ; distin- 
guished from Holy Family, 275, 276; 
legend of Zingarella, 279-282. 

Return from Egypt, 283. 

Ribalta, Francisco, Virgin and St. John, 
327 note. 

Ribera, see Spagnoletto. 

Ridolfi, cited, 199 note. 

Rio, A. F., Christian Art quoted, 352 note. 

Robbia, Luca della, Annunciation by, 
209, 218 ; Nativity, 242. 

Roch, St., in Madonna pictures, 146; with 
St. Sebastian, 135, 154, 155. 

Roelas, Juan de las, Immaculate Concep- 
tion, 105. 

Rosa, Salvator, his Satires cited, 26 ; Virgin 
of Mercy, 152. 

Rosary, origin of festival, 23 ; mysteries 
of, 55 ; sorrowful mysteries of, 305, 
314, 317, 325; pictures illustrating sor- 
rows of, 32G ; glorious mysteries of, 331, 

Rose, symbol of the Virgin, 34. 

Roselli, Cosiino, altar-piece, 70. 

Rosiui, Sloria della Pittura lialiana cited, 

Rossetti, Dante Gabriel, his A re cited, 32 ; 
his Girlhood of the Virgin, 202 ; his Ecce 
Ancilla Domini, 202, 228. 

Rosso, Sibyl's Prophecy, 238. 

Rubens, Peter Paul, painted his wife as 
the Madonna, 26, 288 ; Coronation by, 81 ; 
Last Judgment, 87 ; Education of the 
Virgin, 196 ; how he treated the Marriage 
of the Virgin, 207 ; six Annunciations, 
219 ; Visitation, 233 ; fifteen paintings 
of Adoration of the Magi, 2G0 ; Return 
from Egypt, 283 ; Holy Family, 300 ; 
Return to Nazareth, 307 ; Descent from 
the Cross, 321 ; Deposition, 323; twelve 
Assumptions, 355, 356. 

Ruinohr, Baron von, cited, 325 note. 

Sabbatini, Andrea, Visitation by, 232. 

Sacra Conversazione, 179-183. 

Sacred ami Legendary Art cited, 5, 6, 62, 
78 note, SO note, 84, 98, 104 note, 141 
notes, 142, 143 note, 144 note, 145, 155, 
182, 243, 297, 314, 332. 



Salimbeni, V., Holy Family, 300. 

Banauaro, influence on art, 29 ; hii De 
Part it Virainis, 240,241. 

Sancta I>< i CfeneMx^ see Virgin Mary. 

San Gallo, Francesco da, St. Anna, Ma- 
donna and Child, 13G. 

Sansovino, bas-reliefs of Life of the Virgin, 
54; Annunciation, 219. 

Sanzio, Giovanni, Annunciation by, 21G. 

Sarto, Andrea del, portraits of his wife, 21 ; 
frescoes in the Annunziata, 52 j Madonna, 
128 ; Birth of the Virgin, 105 ; head OX 
the Redeemer, 214 J Annunciation, 225; 
three Holy Families, 299 ; Assumption of 
the Virgin, 358. 

Savonarola, influence on art, 21. 

Sebastian, St., with St. Roch in art, 135, 
154, 155. 

Seroux d'Agincourt, Histoire de V Art par 
lea Monument cited, 76, 122, 194, 196 
note, 254 note. 

Serpent, symbolism of, in art, 30. 

Scarsellino, Virgin and Four Doctors, 143 

Schaffner, Martin, Death of the Virgin, 

Schaufelein, Hans, Angel announcing to the 
Virgin her approaching death, 341. 

Schidone, Bartolommeo, Madonna della 
Campanello, 288 ; Infant Christ learning 
to read, 304. 

Scboen,- Martin, Madonna of the Rose Bush, 
34 ; Last Judgment, 8G ; Pieta, 97 ; Ma- 
donna, 122 ; use of olive in Annunciation, 
217; Adoration of Magi, 259, 200; Pro- 
cession to Calvary, 315, 310 ; Crucifixion, 

Scorel, Jan, Death of the Virgin, 345. 

Sculpture, Madonna in, 121 ; Nativity in, 

Shelley quoted, 32. 

Sibyl, Tiburtina, prophecy of, 237-239. 

Sibyls, represented in Madonna pictures, 
39, 133. 

Siena, Guido da, Madonna by, 118, 119. 

Siena, Matteo da, Madonna by, 154. 

Siena school, Assumption of the Virgin, 

Signorelli, Luca, Madonna with St. Cathe- 
rine, 182. 

Simeon, his relation to the Presentation in 
the Temple, 264-266. 

Sinkel, the Virgin, 202. 

Snow, Our Lady of, origin of title, 58. 

Solario, Andrea, Madonna of the Green 
Cushion, 2S7, 288. 

Sorrows, Seven, of the Virgin, 55, 263 ; 
P r esen tation in the Temple, first of, 263 ; 
the Dispute in the Temple, one of, 306; 
the Procession to Calvary and Crucifixion 
belong to, 314,325; Lo Spasimo, fourth 
of, 310; the Crucifixion, fifth of, 317 ; the 
Ascension, the last of. 832. 

Spagnoletto (Ribera), his excellence in 
representing Mater Dolorosa, 25 ; his pic- 
ture of Duns Scotus, 100. 

Spanish school of art, < haracterized, 25. 

Spasimo, Lo. 313-317 ; explanation of title, 
."d.".: the fourth sorrow of the Virgin, 
310, 317. 

Spinello Aretino, Annunciation by, 223. 

Sposalizio, see Marriage of the Virgin. 
Sipiarcione, Francesco, Madonna by, 109. 
Stabat Mater, as an art subject, 94 ; the 

hymn, 819. 
Stall es >t\\miens quoted, 215 ; cited, 237. 
Star, symbol of the Virgin, 33, 34. 
Steinle, engraving of Madonna di San Sisto, 

31 note ; engraving of Meyer Madonna, 

157 note ; engraving after Palma, 181 

Stirling-Maxwell, Sir William, Annals of 

the Artists of Spam cited, 69 note, 92 

note, 101, 100, 150 note. 
Stranahan, Clara Cornelia, History of 

French I'aintinij cited, 88 note. 
Sun, symbol of the Virgin, 33 ; in Immacu- 
late Conception, 102. 
Symbols, of the Virgin, 33-35 ; of Madonna 

and Child, 35-37, 127. 
Symonds, J. A., Life, of Michel Angclo 

cited, 299 note. 

Tavarone, Lazaro, Immaculate Conception, 

Taylor, Jeremy, Life of Christ quoted, 230, 
238, 241, 245, 204, 205, 305, 318 ; cited, 
203 ; one of his homilies referred to, 287. 

Teniers, David, Flight into Egypt, 274. 

Thausing, Moritz, Life of Albert Diirer 
cited, 54 note, 200 note. 

Thayer, Abbot, Madonna by, 71. 

Theodosius II., his part in the Nestorian 
controversy, 115. 

Throne, of Madonna, how represented, 127- 

Tiarini, Alessandro, Le repentir de Joseph, 
237 ; Flight into Egypt, 270 ; Madre Ad- 
dolorata, 320. 

Tintoretto (Jacopo Robusti), Annunciation, 
223 ; Crucifixion, 318. 

Titian, Annunciation, 35 ; Vierge au La- 
pin, 37, 181 ; Madonna, 154 ; Pesaro Ma- 
donna, 162 ; Pope presenting a General 
to St. Peter, 102 note ; Madonna, 105 ; 
Madonna, 105 note ; pastoral Madonnas, 
179-181; Marriage of St. Catherine, 
182 ; Presentation of the Virgin, 198 ; 
portrait of Titian and Franceschini, 199 
note ; Annunciation, 222 ; Sibyl's Pro- 
phecy, 238 ; Adoration of Shepherds, 248 ; 
introduces court fool into Adoration of 
Magi, 255 ; Riposo, 209, 270 ; two Riposos, 
278; Holy Family, 293; Entombment, 
324 ; Assumption of the Virgin, 354, 355. 

Tobar, Alonzo Miguel de, Divine Shep- 
herdess, 91. 

Toschi, engraving after Correggio, 354 note. 

Trent, Council of, 23. 

Triptych defined, 43. 

Twining, Louisa, Si/mbols of Early Chris- 
tian and Media'i-al Art cited, 15 note. 

Udine, Giovanni da, Christ among the 
Doctors, 300. 

Vandyck, Antony, Mater Dolorosa, 93 ; 
Madonna, 170 ; represents the Virgin 
standing in Adoration of Magi, 201 ; Re- 
pose in Egypt, 278 : Madonna, 288. 

Van Dyke, Henry, Christ-Child in Art 
cited, 210 note, 228, 294. 



Vanni, Francesco, Return from Egypt, 
282, 283. 

Vasari, cited, 51, 109, 111 note, 120, 194, 
233, 238, 243 note, 314 note, 352. 

Vecelli, C, replica of Titian, 180. 

Velasquez, Coronation, 81 ; Immaculate 
Conception, 105. 

Venetian painters, their numerous represen- 
tations of St. Mark, 133 ; their veneration 
for St. Nicholas, St. George, and St. 
Catherine, 14G ; their pictures crowded 
with saints, 147, 148 ; their favorite ar- 
rangement of Madonna and Child, 1G5; 
their excellence in Sacra Conversazione, 
179 ; their pictures of the Nativity, 248 ; 
introduced oriental accessories into Ado- 
ration of Magi, 255 ; their fondness for 
the Riposo, 275 ; their fondness for paint- 
ing groups from ballads, 280 ; the first 
to make the Marriage at Cana a popular 
subject, 310. 

Venusti, Marcello, Pieta (after Michael 
Angelo), 9G ; Holy Family (after Michael 
Angelo), 137. 

Veronese, Paul, two examples of Holy 
Family with St. Anna, 137 ; four paint- 
ings of Adoration of Magi, 2G0 note ; 
his paintings of the Marriage at Cana, 
311 ; Christ taking leave of his Mother, 

Vincenzo, Catena, Madonna attributed to, 

Virgin Mary, supposed authentic descrip- 
tion of, 30; symbols and attributes of, 
33-42, 10G; dress of, 40-42, G5, 81, 102, 
125, 12G ; subjects from life in series, 46 ; 
examples, 47-53 ; seven joys of, 54 ; seven 
sorrows of, 55 ; titles of, 56-59 ; English 
churches dedicated to, GO note ; repre- 
sented without the Child, G4-110 ; Greek 
type of, 64-66 ; as Heavenly Wisdom 
( Virgo Sapiential or Mater Sapientice) 
68-70, 125, 333 ; enthroned without Child, 
examples of, 68-71 ; coronation of, 72- 
84, 358-360 ; as Virgin of Mercy, 85-92, 
146 ; in Last Judgment, 85-87 ; as dis- 
penser of mercy on earth, 87-91 ; as shep- 
herdess, 91 ; as Sancta Dei Genetrix, 
114-116 ; life of, from birth to marriage, 
184-208; nativity of, 193-196; education 
of, 196; presentation of, in temple, 197- 
200 ; in the temple, 200 ; girlhood of, 200- 
202 ; marriage of, 202-208 ; life of, from 
annunciation to return from Egypt, 209- 
283 ; annunciation to. 209-228 ; visitation 
of, 228-235 ; purification of, 262-268 ; life 
of, from sojourn in Egypt to crucifixion, 
284-381 ; how represented in Dispute in 

Temple, 305, 306; introduced inciden- 
tally into the Marriage at Cana, 310 ; not 
represented conspicuously in scenes of 
Christ's ministry, 312 ; how represented 
in the Procession to Calvary, 315 ; how 
represented in the Crucifixion, 317-319 ; 
in the Descent from the Cross, 319 ; in 
Deposition, 322 ; in Entombment, 324 ; 
life of, from resurrection of Christ to 
assumption, 328-360 ; apparition of Christ 
to, 328-331 ; how represented in the As- 
cension, 332; introduction of, into De- 
scent of Holy Ghost, 332 ; receives sacra- 
ment from St. John, 333 ; legends of 
later life, 334 ; death and assumption of, 
336-358 ; announcement of death to, 340, 
341 ; death of, 341-347 ; her body borne 
to tomb by apostles, 346, 347 ; entomb- 
ment of, 347 ; assumption of, 347-358. 
See also the subjects Madonna, Votive 
Madonnas, Mater Dolorosa, Misericordia, 
Immaculate Conception, Predestination, 
Mater Amabilis, Madre Pia, Sacra Con- 
versazione, Regina Cceli, Regina Ange- 

Virgo Sapientiae, see Virgin Mary. 

Visitation, 228-235. 

Vivarini, Alvise, Virgin enthroned with her 
parents, 136. 

Volterra, Daniel di, Descent from the 
Cross, 320, 321. 

Voragine, Jacopo di, see Golden Legend. 

Votive Madonnas, 151-163 ; representing 
the Virgin of Mercy, 151, 152 ; represent- 
ing the Madonna of Victory, 152, 153 ; 
representing the Virgin as a deliverer 
from plague and pestilence, 154, 155 ; as a 
defender against floods and fire, 155, 156; 
as family votive offerings, 156-158 ; as 
offerings of a single votary, 158-160. 

Werff , Adrian van der, Flight into Egypt, 

274, 275. 
Weyden, Roger van der, triptych, 243 ; 

Presentation in the Temple, 267, 268. 
Wilkie, Sir David, cited, 91 note. 
Woeruiann, Catalogue of Dresden Gallery 

cited, 90-91 note, 157 note, 179 note. 
Wordsworth quoted, 17, 32. 
Wright, Thomas, his Chester Mysteries 

cited, 254. 

Zacharias introduced into Holy Family. 

Zaganelli, Francesco (da Cotignola), An- 
nunciation by, 217. 

Zani, Pietro, cited, 31 S. 

Zuccaro, Encounter with the Robbers, 274, 


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